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August 18th 2022

  Inside History   How Suffragists Raced to Secure Women’s Right to Vote Ahead of the 1920 ElectionThe 19th Amendment was ratified on August 18, 1920—just in time to include women voters in the presidential election.Read More   The Origins of 7 Popular SportsDid you know that golf was invented before Abraham Lincoln was born, but basketball didn’t exist until decades after his death?Read More   When Gandhi’s Salt March Rattled British Colonial RuleIn 1930, Mahatma Gandhi and his followers set off on a 241-mile march to the coastal town of Dandi to lay Indian claim to the nation’s own salt.Read More   8 Fascinating Facts About Ancient Roman MedicineWhile doctors in ancient Rome prescribed macabre elixirs and used dreams for diagnoses, they also made significant medical advances.Read More Don’t miss a new episode of Colosseum this Sunday, August 21 at 9/8c on The HISTORY Channel. Stream Episode 1 in the HISTORY App.    

August 10th 2022

Six Books to Guide You Through the Real American West

These novels remind readers that the story of the region is as vast as its landscape.By Kali Fajardo-Anstine

In the second half of the 19th century, the figure of the cowboy emerged as the defining feature of American Western literature. Publishers found success with dime Westerns, novels mythologizing the lives of “Buffalo Bill” Cody, Kit Carson, Wyatt Earp, and other dubious frontiersmen. Decades later, when film became a dominant form of mass entertainment, the moving image of this lonesome and troubled white man riding on horseback would come to personify the ethos of an entire region, a metaphor for a young and white America, heroically subduing the supposedly barren landscape.

My debut novel, Woman of Light, is also a Western saga. It is propelled by five generations of Chicana and Indigenous women and is based on my family’s oral tradition in what is now known as Colorado. In response to the saturating mythos of the white cowboy, my novel includes markers of the Western genre, such as sharpshooters and Wild West shows, but it breaks away from these rigid confines to offer a more naturalistic view of the American West from the late 19th century through the Great Depression.

I’ve always admired writers who have worked to dispel myths about the West. I am especially drawn to the novels that have illuminated a wide range of people who inhabit the region. Some of these books are now considered classics, but there are newer titles, too, that tell the truths of our communities. These six novels provide a sharper rendering of Western stories and a broader view of the region that has captured the world’s imagination for centuries.

The cover of The Rain God
William Morrow

The Rain God, by Arturo Islas

An exquisite multigenerational novel by Islas, a pioneering Chicano writer, The Rain God follows the Angel clan along the Texas-Mexico border, where descendants of the stern and pious Mama Chona hold one another in a complex familial embrace. Born in El Paso in 1938, Islas became the first Chicano to publish a novel with a major New York press in 1990, but died one year later of AIDS-related complications at age 52. Widely considered a masterpiece, The Rain God is taught in many literature and Chicano-studies classes across the country for its groundbreaking portrait of the central family. The novel’s matriarch was a young woman in Mexico when her firstborn, a brilliant university student, was gunned down in San Miguel de Allende during the Mexican Revolution. The Angel family is thrust north to the desert. Readers receive an intimate glimpse of this web of children and grandchildren, friends, and neighbors. In vivid realist scenes, this masterwork of American literature touches on themes of border consciousness, queerness, and the inescapable finality of death.

The cover of Geek Love

Geek Love, by Katherine Dunn

Born in Kansas in 1945, Dunn was the daughter of migrant farmworkers and sharecroppers. Her family of five siblings roved throughout the American West before settling in Oregon, a childhood Dunn considered a “standard Western American life.” Her third novel, the grotesque carnival saga Geek Love, follows a similarly roaming family of five children—the Binewskis of the Carnival Fabulon. Aloysius and Crystal Lil Binewski run a traveling circus; when it falters, they decide to genetically modify their own children into sideshow “freaks” through use of radiation and toxic drugs. The result is one of the most unforgettable and unique families in American literature. Told in two timelines, Geek Love is narrated by the now adult Oly, a Portland radio host and a dwarf with albinism and a hunchback who is determined to keep her family history alive for her estranged daughter. The novel, bursting with creative genius, displays Dunn’s prodigious understanding of family dynamics, especially among siblings in this marginalized troupe of performers.

Read: Before Geek Love, Katherine Dunn gave us Attic

The cover of My Ántonia
Penguin Classics

My Ántonia, by Willa Cather

Frequently called a classic, Cather’s fourth novel, My Ántonia, is rapturous with prairie imagery and depictions of the 1918 book’s shining star, the resilient and uncommonly brave Ántonia Shimerda. Told from the perspective of the orphaned Jim Burden, who is sent from Virginia to live with his grandparents in Nebraska, this moving story of human connection across time is a page-turner propelled by a deeply emotionally intelligent voice. Jim first encounters Ántonia and her Bohemian immigrant family while traveling by train to the Great Plains. Once settled in Nebraska, Jim forms a close friendship with Ántonia and witnesses her strength after her father dies by suicide. Scholars debate Cather’s queerness, but My Ántonia is easily read as a queer-coded text, one in which Jim and Ántonia are not connected through the usual trappings of heteronormative romance. Instead, as they grow up, they embrace the human need to understand the weight of our early beginnings and trace how our foundational relationships shape our futures.

The cover of Under the Feet of Jesus
Plume Books

Under the Feet of Jesus, Helena María Viramontes

Viramontes’s first novel, published in 1995 and dedicated in part to Cesar Chavez, is a saturated, sensory experience through the grape fields of California’s Central Valley. The book is slim, but each achingly realistic scene teems with life as its main character and her family of farmworkers navigate corruption and dangerous labor conditions. In lush and commanding prose, we come to know Estrella, who was abandoned by her father as a young girl. When Estrella is a teenager, her mother, Petra, discovers that she is unexpectedly pregnant by her new companion, Perfecto, who misses his home and wrestles with the decision to stay or leave for Mexico. With gorgeous, sweeping sentences, pared-down dialogue, and keen attention to workers’ lives, this haunting novel has been compared to the work of John Steinbeck and William Faulkner. Under the Feet of Jesus is a true wonder that leaves the reader with a greater understanding of the American West and the people who are vital to our food supply.

Read: The Western rides again

The cover of Where the Dead Sit Talking
Soho Press

Where the Dead Sit Talking, by Brandon Hobson

A compulsively honest narrator is mesmerizing, and the voice behind Hobson’s 2018 novel, Where the Dead Sit Talking, is absolutely transfixing. In this darkly strange yet comforting story, a Cherokee man named Sequoyah reflects on his time in the foster-care system as a teenager. Like his ancestors before him, Sequoyah and his mother are pushed out of Cherokee County. His mother, meandering through a maze of poverty and addiction, soon is imprisoned for driving while under the influence and for possession of drug paraphernalia. Sequoyah is eventually placed in rural Oklahoma with the Troutt family, who have two other foster children, George and Rosemary. On the opening page, we learn that Rosemary, a 17-year-old Indigenous girl, will die in front of Sequoyah. This impulse toward hard-edged truths endears Sequoyah to the reader in a rare and vital way, spotlighting Indigenous experiences that have so violently been overlooked by mainstream Western literature. “People live and die. Death is quick,” says Sequoyah by the novel’s end, teaching us and himself about the realities of our frequently painful human existence, so marked by loss.

The cover of Four Treasures of the Sky

Four Treasures of the Sky, by Jenny Tinghui Zhang

Four Treasures of the Sky, an adventurous and ambitious debut novel, follows Daiyu, a 13-year-old girl kidnapped from a fish market in China in 1882. Daiyu’s grandmother disguises her as a boy in order to protect her, and she is then sent to work in a calligraphy school, but despite her concealment, she is eventually trafficked to a brutal San Francisco brothel. In this new and strange land, Daiyu survives by constantly adapting to her surroundings. The novel was inspired by a historical marker describing a little-known vigilante murder in 1885 Idaho, where five Chinese men were hanged. Zhang’s powerful debut reminds us of some of the more hideous parts of the American past while illuminating white supremacy’s lingering, contemporary poison. Meticulously researched and historically illuminating, Four Treasures of the Sky offers a careful examination of character and the devastating impacts of anti-Chinese sentiment across the West.

​​When you buy a book using a link on this page, we receive a commission. Thank you for supporting The Atlantic.

January 23rd 2022

‘Women and children first’ onto the Titanic lifeboats was a myth, historian claims

Hannah Furness  

It is one of the most enduring sentiments of a seemingly lost age of chivalry: “Women and children first.”The Titanic leaving Southampton on her maiden, and final, voyage - AP© AP The Titanic leaving Southampton on her maiden, and final, voyage – AP

Read More ‘Women and children first’ onto the Titanic lifeboats was a myth, historian claims (msn.com)

They were the world’s richest family, until their dynasty was destroyed

Danielle McAdam 

Slide 1 of 34: Once the richest family in the world, the House of Romanov was Russia's ruling dynastic family for over 300 years from 1613 until its deposition in 1917. Each new generation of rulers led to a fresh set of torrid tales, including brutal murders, family betrayals, and assassination plots. Read on to take a trip through the heinous history of the super-rich House of Romanov.
The extraordinary story of the House of Romanov
Once the richest family in the world, the House of Romanov was Russia’s ruling dynastic family for over 300 years from 1613 until its deposition in 1917. Each new generation of rulers led to a fresh set of torrid tales, including brutal murders, family betrayals, and assassination plots. The heinous history of the super-rich House of Romanov and their vile regime gave birth to comm

January 11th 2022

Medieval warhorses no bigger than modern-day ponies, study finds

Steven Morris 

In films and literature they are usually depicted as hulking, foot-stomping, snorting beasts but a new study has claimed that the medieval warhorse was typically a much slighter, daintier animal.

Read More Medieval warhorses no bigger than modern-day ponies, study finds (msn.com)

January 7th 2022

Winston Churchill’s parting message to Neville Chamberlain after failed Munich Agreement

Charlie Pittock  

Dominic Cummings makes new claim of party in No 10 garden in lockdownCelebrity tributes pour in for Black acting pioneer Sidney Poitier after death at 94

Neville Chamberlain served as Prime Minister from 1937 until May 1940. Best known for his foreign policy of appeasement, he played a crucial role in the Munich Agreement of September 1938, which handed the German-speaking Sudetenland region of Czechoslovakia to Germany. Chamberlain famously declared “peace for our time” as he was photographed waving an agreement with Adolf Hitler in the air. The Munich Agreement is the subject of a new film ‘Munich: The Edge of War’, an adaptation of Robert Harris’ bestselling novel ‘Munich’.

Read More Winston Churchill’s parting message to Neville Chamberlain after failed Munich Agreement (msn.com)

Three of R J Cook’s 5 soldier uncles , with their Irish father IN 1940. Uncle Charles was killed with the London Irish Rifles. Cook’s father was wounded , while serving as a regular soldier with the Middlesex Regiment, at Dunkirk. Political morons and their politically correct cheer leaders want another war with Russia because the elite want more resources to waste and for short term profit. Their environmentalism is a smokescreen and a con. R J Cook

January 4th 2022

Building The Titanic: The Story of The “Unsinkable Ship” | Our History – YouTube

November 28th 2021

London Underground: The untold story of the hidden tram network that ferried commuters across the city

Martin Elvery  

Chemists could hold key to slashing NHS waiting lists, says pharmacists’ leaderVirgil Abloh death: Music world mourns ‘genius’ Off-White creator behind…

These days if you want to find a tram in London you have to go to Croydon – or to the London Transport Museum.

But back in the day, trams were the way to get around the capital.

Even before the London Underground was fully developed, Britain had the biggest tram network in the world.

Earlier this year, a key part of this network, the long abandoned Kingsway Tramway Subway, reopened to the public as the London Transport Museum offered tours around it.

We’ve uncovered the remarkable human story of the tunnel and what it has meant to Londoners.

Read More London Underground: The untold story of the hidden tram network that ferried commuters across the city (msn.com)

The Amazing Escapes of Jack Sheppard

by Ben Johnson

Jack Sheppard was the 18th century’s most notorious robber and thief. His spectacular escapes from various prisons, including two from Newgate, made him the most glamorous rogue in London in the weeks before his dramatic execution.

Jack Sheppard (4 March 1702 – 16 November 1724) was born into a poor family in Spitalfields in London, an area notorious for highwaymen, villains and prostitutes in the early 18th century. He was apprenticed as a carpenter and by 1722, after 5 years of apprenticeship, he was already an accomplished craftsman, with less than a year of his training left.

Now 20 years old, he was a small man, 5’4″ tall and slightly built. His quick smile, charm and personality apparently made him popular in the taverns of Drury Lane, where he fell in with bad company and took up with a prostitute called Elizabeth Lyon, also known as ‘Edgworth Bess’.

He threw himself wholeheartedly into this shady underworld of drinking and whoring. Inevitably, his career as a carpenter suffered, and Sheppard took to stealing in order to boost his legitimate income. His first recorded crime was for petty shoplifting in spring 1723.

Read More The Amazing Escapes of Jack Sheppard (historic-uk.com)

The Stagecoach

by Ben Johnson

Originating in England in the 13th century, the stagecoach as we know it first appeared on England’s roads in the early 16th century. A stagecoach is so called because it travels in segments or “stages” of 10 to 15 miles. At a stage stop, usually a coaching inn, horses would be changed and travellers would have a meal or a drink, or stay overnight.

The first coaches were fairly crude and little better than covered wagons, generally drawn by four horses. Without suspension, these coaches could only travel at around 5 miles an hour on the rutted tracks and unmade roads of the time. During cold or wet weather, travel was often impossible. A writer of 1617 describes the “covered waggons in which passengers are carried to and fro; but this kind of journeying is very tedious, so that only women and people of inferior condition travel in this sort.”

Read More The Stagecoach (historic-uk.com)

Murderous Belief – July 6th 2021

HomeIslam  Islam Has Massacred Over 669+ Million Non-Muslims Since 622AD

Donald Trump said Adolf Hitler ‘did a lot of good things’, new book claims

Donald Trump told his chief of staff that Adolf Hitler “did a lot of good things” as leader of Nazi Germany, according to a new book. 

The former president was on a tour of Europe in 2018 when the retired four-star Marine general John Kelly gave him an impromptu history lesson to “remind the President which countries were on which side during the conflict” and “connect the dots from the First World War to the Second World War and all of Hitler’s atrocities”, it has been claimed.

But Michael Bender, author of the forthcoming book Frankly We Did Win This Election, alleges that Mr Trump insisted on outlining the positives of Germany’s economic recovery during the 1930s, saying: “Well, Hitler did a lot of good things.”

According to The Guardian, which has obtained a copy of the book, Mr Kelly was “stunned” but “pushed back again and argued that the German people would have been better off poor than subjected to the Nazi genocide”. 

Islam Has Massacred Over 669+ Million Non-Muslims Since 622AD

In fact, no ideology has been as genocidal as Islam…By External Source -March 8, 2016104185065

Islam has killed more than 5 times the number of people killed by communism.

In the total numbers we have updated over 80 million Christians killed by Muslims in 500 years in the Balkan states, Hungary, Ukraine, Russia.

Then we have India. The official estimate number of Muslim slaughters of Hindus is 80 million. However, Muslim historian Firistha (b. 1570) wrote (in either Tarikh-i Firishta or  the Gulshan-i Ibrahim) that Muslims slaughtered over 400 million Hindus up to the peak of Islamic rule of India, bringing the Hindu population down from 600 mil to 200 million at the time.

With these new additions the Muslim genocide of non-Muslims since the birth of Mohammed would be over 669 million murders.

Islam: The Religion of Genocide

Perspective: Think the Spanish inquisition was bad?

  • More people are killed by Islamists each year than in all 350 years of the Spanish Inquisition* combined.The Spanish inquisition (Tribunal del Santo Oficio de la Inquisición) from 1478 to 1834 was established due to muslim invasions. It was the war and battle to try and end Islamic infiltration, Arab fascism and conquest. It’s quite interesting how similar to muslims their methodology was. Was it habit by long association under muslim rule or a strategy?Note: The Spanish Inquisition was an answer to the multi-religious nature of Spanish society following the reconquest of the Iberian Peninsula from the Muslim Moors.After invading in 711, large areas of the Iberian Peninsula were ruled by Muslims until 1250, when they were restricted to Granada, which fell in 1492. However, the Reconquista did not result in the total expulsion of Muslims from Spain, since they, along with the enslaved Jews, were tolerated by the ruling Christian elite. Large cities, especially Seville, Valladolid and Barcelona, had significant Jewish populations centered in Juderia. Muslims tried to take control throughout the entire country and expand into France to install an islamic state wherever they went.To expel the vicious Islamic parasite from the nation the Tribunal killed anyone and everyone who were suspected of being contaminated by Islam, even those enslaved by the muslims.The Inquisition not only hunted for Protestants and for false converts from Judaism among the conversos, but also searched for false or relapsed converts among the Moriscos [moors], forced converts from Islam. Many Moriscos were suspected of practising Islam in secret. They killed anyone suspected of being traitors or disguised moles. No one was spared.So successful was the enterprise in 1609, in the space of months, Spain was emptied of its Moriscos. Expelled were the Moriscos of Aragon, Murcia, Catalonia, Castile, Mancha and Extremadura.In other words, the Spanish inquisition saved the entire region from being taken over by Islamic rule. It was a brutal but quintessentially heroic act in history that saw the sacrifice of millions of people to exterminate Islam fully and completely from the land. It took them nearly 400 years. Imagine the sheer volume of muslims in the country for it to take almost four centuries to get rid of them.

Think the KKK has been bad since 1950?

Think the KKK was bad from 1865-1965?

Think the IRA’s terror campaign and the sectarian violence in Northern Ireland was bad?

Think capital punishment in the USA is barbaric?

It’s actually much worse than that: MORE PERSPECTIVE: Tears of Jihad

These figures are a rough estimate of the death of non-Muslims by the political act of jihad.


Thomas Sowell [Thomas Sowell, Race and Culture, BasicBooks, 1994, p. 188] estimates that 11 million slaves were shipped across the Atlantic and 14 million were sent to the Islamic nations of North Africa and the Middle East.

For every slave captured many others died.

Estimates of this collateral damage vary. The renowned missionary David Livingstone estimated that for every slave who reached a plantation, five others were killed in the initial raid or died of illness and privation on the forced march.

[Woman’s Presbyterian Board of Missions, David Livingstone, p. 62, 1888]

Those who were left behind were the very young, the weak, the sick and the old. These soon died since the main providers had been killed or enslaved.

So, for 25 million slaves delivered to the market, we have an estimated death of about 120 million people. Islam ran the wholesale slave trade in Africa.

120 million Africans


The number of Christians martyred by Islam is 9 million [David B. Barrett, Todd M. Johnson, World Christian Trends AD 30-AD 2200, William Carey Library, 2001, p. 230, table 4-10] .

A rough estimate by Raphael Moore in History of Asia Minor is that another 50 million died in wars by jihad.

So counting the million African Christians killed in the 20th century we have:

59 million Christians in Asia Minor

80 million Christians killed by Muslims during 500 years in the Balkan states, Hungary, Ukraine, Russia.

[This calculation does not include the Arab biological warfare of the middle ages where enslaved and infected Jews, riddled with plague, were dumped across Europe in regions that had no Jewish origin or settlers. They carried the disease from the brutal Arab slave trade and were part of the enslaved blacks, Christians and Jews who managed to survive by paying jizya. These diseased people were then spread into Europe during muslim efforts to conquer the Italian coast (Venice), Greece, Spain, etc. The plague ended up killing half of the entire population of Europe]


Koenard Elst in Negationism in India gives an estimate of 80 million Hindus killed in the total jihad against India. [Koenard Elst, Negationism in India, Voice of India, New Delhi, 2002, pg. 34.]

The country of India today is only half the size of ancient India, due to jihad. The mountains near India are called the Hindu Kush, meaning the “funeral pyre of the Hindus.”

80 million Hindus + adjusted 320 million = 400 million Hindus

[UPDATE: According to reports from the 1899 in a statement made by Indian religious leader Swami Vivekananda quoting Muslim historian Firistha, Muslims slaughtered over 400 million Hindus during an 800 year Muslim rule, bringing a population down from 600 mil to 200 million at the time. Firishta wrote the Tarikh-i Firishta and the Gulshan-i Ibrahim. If Muslims indeed slaughtered over 400 million people in India, the Muslim genocide around the world would exceed 890 million victims.

“When the Mohammedans first came we were said – I think on the authority of Ferishta, the oldest Mohammedan historian – to have been six hundred millions of Hindus. Now we are about two hundred millions.

— An interview of Swami Vivekananda, published in Prabuddha Bharat. April, 1899 and compiled under heading ‘On the Bounds of Hinduism’.]

400 million Hindus


Buddhists do not keep up with the history of war. Keep in mind that in jihad only Christians and Jews were allowed to survive as dhimmis (servants to Islam); everyone else had to convert or die.

Jihad killed the Buddhists in Turkey, Afghanistan, along the Silk Route, and in India.

The total is roughly 10 million. [David B. Barrett, Todd M. Johnson, World Christian Trends AD 30-AD 2200, William Carey Library, 2001, p. 230, table 4-1.]

10 million Buddhists


Oddly enough there were not enough Jews killed in jihad to significantly affect the totals of the Great Annihilation. The jihad in Arabia was 100 percent effective, but the numbers were in the thousands, not millions.

After that, the Jews submitted and became the dhimmis (servants and second class citizens) of Islam and did not have geographic political power.

This gives a rough estimate of 669+ million killed by jihad.

Missing Data


Muslims invaded and occupied the peace-loving Persians, the followers of Zorohaustra.

Christians in the Middle East.

Chinese during the mongul invasions.

Plus Muslims have slaughtered 11 million other Muslims since 1948 in addition to the 669million+ non-Muslims they have murdered over the centuries. How many Muslims they have murdered over 1,400 years is unknown.

590,000,000: that’s way more than stalin, hitler, mao, pol pot, idi amin (a sunni muslim), and the rest of the 20th century’s genocidal socialists! And it doesn’t stop there. The killing by muslims around the world continues to this day.

  • For good reasons, the left loves to hate the spanish inquisition, the kkk, and there are even good arguments against capital punishment in the usa (though i support it!).
  • The left has no problem calling the spanish inquisition and the kkk and capital punishment barbaric.
  • So why don’t they criticize islam – which is demonstrably worse than all three combined!?!?
  • In fact, no ideology has been as genocidal as islam…
  • Nor has any ideology been so bloodthirsty for so long. For centuries…
  • Nor has any ideology ever been as anti-liberty, anti-democracy – or as anti-woman.

It’s time it was stopped. For good.

Allegation that people are killed for leaving Islam

BY AL5LAS · AUGUST 2, 2012

For the attention of non-muslims.

If someone wants to leave Islam, they get killed. YES or NO??

Regarding the apostasy issue, its not as simple as a YES or NO. Its not as black an white as that, regardless of how people may invisage it.

You believe in freedom of expression and free speech an all that, fair dos. People believe in different things. You cant force us to follow what you believe and i cant force you to believe what i believe. We believe in God and feel everything should be done according to his law, which is contained in his final revelation.

This law would be Islamic law, and the issue of apostacy would come under this area. The only way the law regarding apostacy could come into practice is if the individuals concerned are living under an Islamic state. In an Islamic state, people live under the law of the land. Just as we follow English law under her majesty’s pleasure in England, and everyone else follows the law of their own country. It would just happen to be that in an Islamic state, the country would have their own laws. Nout wrong with that is their, you wont prevent people from having their own laws in their own countries now would you lad.

Now if someone in an Islamic state wants to leave Islam, they will do. It is literally a personal choice and once they have made their mind up thats the end of it. However In that Islamic if someone openly declares that they are no longer a Muslim and by doing so cause unrest and seek to cause harm to the state, then this person can be dealt with by either being asked to leave the state or by being executed.

When someone enters into Islam they not only devote their personal spiritual self to God, but in the case of the one in the Islamic state they also devote themselves to the political structure laid down by Gods law. When we look at apostacy here, we have to look at it in the correct historical context and with the right conditions. Its not just a matter of YES and NO.

From the western perspective religion has no place to play in the legal system. A person is free to follow a religion or not, this is why to you the idea of someone being executed for leaving their religion seems quite absurd. However, we should keep in mind that when capital punishment was abolished for murder back in 1965, it was still retained for treason and piracy with violence. Infact it was also the legal punishment for setting fire to her majesty’s ships all the way up till 1971! Now thats absurd.

This principle of treason still exists today in most countries, where treason is considered to be rebellious against the state such as where state secrets are given to some other country, people are executed. Remember now this is execution for material information.

Now when we look at the Islamic perspective, religion is viewed differently then it is in the west. In Islam, the religion is the state. There is no seperation of powers in that sense, the state an Islam are one. The state is governed by the religious principles, so rebellion against the state is rebellion against the religion. Apostacy in an Islamic state amounts to a rejection of the law and the order of that society and as such it is considered as an act of treason.

As i mentioned, a person who abandons the faith personally and feels they no longer want to live under the law of the land and the system is free to leave and do as they please. Islam does not allow or prescribe that these people should be hunted down like Salman Rushdie and killed simply because they chose to leave Islam. The law of apostacy only really deals with people who within the Islamic state openly reject the principles and laws of the state and those who undermine the social islamic system of the state as a whole.

Yes there is no compulsion of religion within Islam; compulsion in joining Islam. But once someone becomes a Muslim, they are obliged to stick with Islam in that this is a serious commitment. You cant compare being part of a religion with anything else, which is the common mistake people make. Its not like buying a new pair of trainers, or picking somewhere to eat out. The whole point is that you believe this is the true religion of God, and as such this is the purpose to your life – something you are very serious about.

You also have to look at the motives behind the entire law of apostacy in Islam. It was first implemented at the time of the prophet in Medina when opponents of Islam were intentionally joining Islam and then leaving it within days and even hours in order to shake the faith of the Muslims and to undermine the order of law. They were playing with the religion to cause confusion amongst other new muslims and weaker members of society. This law aims to prevent any such tactic being employed within an Islamic state.

The death penalty is for those who co-operate with individuals at war with the Islamic state, or those who gather people to fight against the state. This is the real practical application of the law in Islam. In Islam we dont have inqusition courts set up to track an test peoples different levels of faith. What people do personally is their own choice. The death penalty only becomes an issue in the circumstances i have already mentioned.

Where a person openly challenges the law and order of the state and undermines the social system by apostating in a rebellious and hostile fashion, if they get caught and are brought before court – they are still afforded the opportunity to retract their statement and take it back. If they do retract their statement, they are not executed and are free to go. This just goes to show the level of justice which is afforded by Islam even to people who seek to cause unrest. It also shows the type of people we are dealing with, not your average joe. Joe would simply retract his statement and not get executed, however the one who clearly has intention of causing unrest and is even unwilling to take the opportunity of leniancy and pardon – this is the type of person who will clearly be harmful to the state an thus execution is permissable.

So in short, western civilisations have and will execute its citizens for giving away state secrets – something which is mere material. Even if they beg for forgiveness and repent, they will be punished. Islamic law will not execute people for the same purpose. However they will execute them for something which is far more serious; rebellion against God. May not seem much to you, but if a muslim lives in an Islamic state and makes that choice to be muslim and abide by the law of the state, it is a very serious matter. In Islam, this type of rebellion is far greater then the rebellion against the individual or the state.

It is not for the Islamic state to simply declare someone as an apostate or for people on the street to call for someone to be killed. Their are courts of law where the matter is looked into with all the evidence presented, the individuals have to be questioned and they have the right to defend themselves.

To make it clearer and to answer a question non muslims often ask:

“So you do believe someone should be murdered if they leave your faith?”

NO i dont. I dont believe another human should be murdered because of their religious beliefs. I believe in everything i have written above, and if you need further clarification then please read it again, or message me

Related content:

  1. Who are the real terrorists?
  2. Allegation that Muhammad was racist
  3. Is it Islam??
  4. Fabrication of hadith
  5. Meaning of Islam: Myths, stereotypes hide the truth

White ShipPosted July 4th 2021

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to navigationJump to searchThis article is about the twelfth-century vessel. For fictional tales with this title, see The White Ship (disambiguation).

The White Ship sinking
Out of service25 November 1120
FateStruck a submerged rock off BarfleurNormandy
General characteristics
Class and typeSailing ship
Installed powerSquare Sails
PropulsionWind and oars

The White Ship (Frenchla Blanche-NefMedieval LatinCandida navis) was a vessel that sank in the English Channel near the Normandy coast off Barfleur, on 25 November 1120. Only one of approximately 300 people aboard survived, a butcher from Rouen.[1] Those who drowned included William Adelin, the only in-wedlock son and heir of King Henry I of England, his half-sister Matilda, his half-brother RichardRichard d’Avranches, 2nd Earl of Chester, and Geoffrey Ridel. William Adelin’s death led to a succession crisis and a period of civil war in England from 1135–53 known as the Anarchy.



The White Ship was a newly refitted vessel captained by Thomas FitzStephen (Thomas filz Estienne), whose father Stephen FitzAirard (Estienne filz Airard) had been captain of the ship Mora for William the Conqueror when he invaded England in 1066.[2] Thomas offered his ship to Henry I of England to return to England from Barfleur in Normandy.[3] Henry had already made other arrangements, but allowed many in his retinue to take the White Ship, including his heir, William Adelin, his out-of-wedlock son Richard of Lincoln, his out-of-wedlock daughter Matilda FitzRoy, Countess of Perche, and many other nobles.[3]

According to chronicler Orderic Vitalis, the crew asked William Adelin for wine and he supplied it to them in great abundance.[3] By the time the ship was ready to leave there were about 300 people on board, although some, including the future king Stephen of Blois, had disembarked due to the excessive binge drinking before the ship sailed.[4]

The ship’s captain, Thomas FitzStephen, was ordered by the revellers to overtake the king’s ship, which had already sailed.[4] The White Ship was fast, of the best construction and had recently been fitted with new materials, which made the captain and crew confident they could reach England first. But when it set off in the dark, its port side struck a submerged rock called Quillebœuf, and the ship quickly capsized.[4]

William Adelin got into a small boat and could have escaped but turned back to try to rescue his half-sister, Matilda, when he heard her cries for help. His boat was swamped by others trying to save themselves, and William drowned along with them.[4] According to Orderic Vitalis, Berold (Beroldus or Berout), a butcher from Rouen, was the sole survivor of the shipwreck by clinging to the rock. The chronicler further wrote that when Thomas FitzStephen came to the surface after the sinking and learned that William Adelin had not survived, he let himself drown rather than face the King.[5]

One legend holds that the ship was doomed because priests were not allowed to board it and bless it with holy water in the customary manner.[6][a] For a complete list of those who did or did not travel on the White Ship, see Victims of the White Ship disaster.


Henry I and the sinking White Ship.Main article: The Anarchy

A direct result of William Adelin’s death was the period known as the Anarchy. The White Ship disaster had left Henry I with only one in-wedlock child, a second daughter named Matilda. Although Henry I had forced his barons to swear an oath to support Matilda as his heir on several occasions, a woman had never ruled in England in her own right. Matilda was also unpopular because she was married to Geoffrey V, Count of Anjou, a traditional enemy of England’s Norman nobles. Upon Henry’s death in 1135, the English barons were reluctant to accept Matilda as queen regnant.

One of Henry I’s male relatives, Stephen of Blois, the king’s nephew by his sister Adela, usurped Matilda as well as his older brothers William and Theobald to become king. Stephen had allegedly planned to travel on the White Ship but had disembarked just before it sailed;[3] Orderic Vitalis attributes this to a sudden bout of diarrhoea.[citation needed]

After Henry I’s death, Matilda and her husband Geoffrey of Anjou, the founder of the Plantagenet dynasty, launched a long and devastating war against Stephen and his allies for control of the English throne. The Anarchy dragged from 1135 to 1153 with devastating effect, especially in southern England.

Contemporary historian William of Malmesbury wrote:

No ship that ever sailed brought England such disaster, none was so well known the wide world over. There perished then with William the king’s other son Richard, born to him before his accession by a woman of the country, a high-spirited youth, whose devotion had earned his father’s love; Richard earl of Chester and his brother Othuel, the guardian and tutor of the king’s son; the king’s daughter the countess of Perche, and his niece, Theobald’s sister, the countess of Chester; besides all the choicest knights and chaplains of the court, and the nobles’ sons who were candidates for knighthood, for they had hastened to from all sides to join him, as I have said, expecting no small gain in reputation if they could show the king’s son some sport or do him some service.[7]

Historical fiction[edit]

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  • Reference to the sinking of the White Ship is made in Ken Follett‘s novel The Pillars of the Earth (1989) and its later game adaptation. The ship’s sinking sets the stage for the entire background of the story, which is based on the subsequent civil war between Matilda (referred to as Maud in the novel) and Stephen. In Follett’s novel, it is implied that the ship may have been sabotaged; this implication is seen in the TV adaptation – even going so far as to show William Adelin assassinated whilst on a lifeboat – and the video game adaptation.

Christopher Columbus[a] (/kəˈlʌmbəs/;[3] born between 25 August and 31 October 1451, died 20 May 1506) was an Italian[b] explorer and navigator who completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean, opening the way for the widespread European exploration and colonization of the Americas. His expeditions, sponsored by the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, were the first European contact with the CaribbeanCentral America, and South America.

Columbus was looking to find a westward sea route to the East Indies but instead landed in what is now known as the West Indies. His voyages ultimately resulted in lasting contact and colonization of European countries in the Americas. Prior to Columbus’s voyages, the people (including Columbus himself) who were living in the continents of Europe, Asia, and Africa were unaware that the North and South American continents even existed.

The name Christopher Columbus is the Anglicisation of the Latin Christophorus Columbus. Scholars generally agree that Columbus was born in the Republic of Genoa and spoke a dialect of Ligurian as his first language. He went to sea at a young age and travelled widely, as far north as the British Isles and as far south as what is now Ghana. He married Portuguese noblewoman Filipa Moniz Perestrelo and was based in Lisbon for several years, but later took a Castilian mistress; he had one son with each woman. Though largely self-educated, Columbus was widely read in geography, astronomy, and history. He formulated a plan to seek a western sea passage to the East Indies, hoping to profit from the lucrative spice trade. Following Columbus’s persistent lobbying to multiple kingdoms, Catholic monarchs Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand II agreed to sponsor a journey west. Columbus left Castile in August 1492 with three ships, and made landfall in the Americas on 12 October (ending the period of human habitation in the Americas now referred to as the pre-Columbian era). His landing place was an island in the Bahamas, known by its native inhabitants as Guanahani. Columbus subsequently visited the islands now known as Cuba and Hispaniola, establishing a colony in what is now Haiti. Columbus returned to Castile in early 1493, bringing a number of captured natives with him. Word of his voyages soon spread throughout Europe.

Columbus made three further voyages to the Americas, exploring the Lesser Antilles in 1493, Trinidad and the northern coast of South America in 1498, and the eastern coast of Central America in 1502. Many of the names he gave to geographical features—particularly islands—are still in use. He also gave the name indios (“Indians”) to the indigenous peoples he encountered. The extent to which he was aware that the Americas were a wholly separate landmass is uncertain; he never clearly renounced his belief that he had reached the Far East. As a colonial governor, Columbus was accused by his contemporaries of significant brutality and was soon removed from the post. Columbus’s strained relationship with the Crown of Castile and its appointed colonial administrators in America led to his arrest and removal from Hispaniola in 1500, and later to protracted litigation over the benefits that he and his heirs claimed were owed to them by the crown. Columbus’s expeditions inaugurated a period of exploration, conquest, and colonization that lasted for centuries, helping create the modern Western world. The transfers between the Old World and New World that followed his first voyage are known as the Columbian exchange.

Columbus was widely venerated in the centuries after his death, but public perception has fractured in recent decades as scholars give greater attention to the harm committed under his governance, particularly the near-extermination of Hispaniola’s indigenous Taíno population from mistreatment and European diseases, as well as their enslavement. Proponents of the Black Legend theory of history claim that Columbus has been unfairly maligned as part of a wider anti-Catholic sentiment. Many places in the Western Hemisphere bear his name, including the country of Colombia, the District of Columbia, and the Canadian province of British Columbia.


Early life

Further information on Columbus’s birthplace and family background: Origin theories of Christopher ColumbusChristopher Columbus House in Genoa, a 18-century reconstruction of the original Columbus’ house likely destroyed during the 1684 bombardment, and rebuilt on the basis of its ruins.[6][7]

Columbus’s early life is obscure, but scholars believe he was born in the Republic of Genoa between 25 August and 31 October 1451.[5] His father was Domenico Colombo,[8] a wool weaver who worked both in Genoa and Savona and who also owned a cheese stand at which young Christopher worked as a helper. His mother was Susanna Fontanarossa.[8][c] He had three brothers—Bartolomeo, Giovanni Pellegrino, and Giacomo (also called Diego),[2] as well as a sister named Bianchinetta.[9] His brother Bartolomeo worked in a cartography workshop in Lisbon for at least part of his adulthood.[10]

His native language is presumed to have been a Genoese dialect although Columbus never wrote in that language. His name in the 16th-century Genoese language would have been Cristoffa[11] Corombo[12] (Ligurian pronunciation: [kriˈʃtɔffa kuˈɹuŋbu]).[13][14] His name in Italian is Cristoforo Colombo, and in Spanish Cristóbal Colón.[8]

In one of his writings, he says he went to sea at the age of 10. In 1470, the Columbus family moved to Savona, where Domenico took over a tavern. In the same year, Christopher was on a Genoese ship hired in the service of René of Anjou to support his attempt to conquer the Kingdom of Naples. Some modern authors have argued that he was not from Genoa but, instead, from the Aragon region of Spain[15] or from Portugal.[16] These competing hypotheses have generally been discounted by mainstream scholars.[17][18]

In 1473, Columbus began his apprenticeship as business agent for the wealthy Spinola, Centurione, and Di Negro families of Genoa. Later, he made a trip to Chios, an Aegean island then ruled by Genoa.[19] In May 1476, he took part in an armed convoy sent by Genoa to carry valuable cargo to northern Europe. He probably docked in Bristol, England,[20] and Galway, Ireland. He may have also gone to Iceland in 1477.[8][21][22] It is known that in the autumn of 1477, he sailed on a Portuguese ship from Galway to Lisbon, where he found his brother Bartolomeo, and they continued trading for the Centurione family. Columbus based himself in Lisbon from 1477 to 1485. He married Filipa Moniz Perestrelo, daughter of the Porto Santo governor and Portuguese nobleman of Lombard origin Bartolomeu Perestrello.[23]

In 1479 or 1480, Columbus’s son Diego was born. Between 1482 and 1485, Columbus traded along the coasts of West Africa, reaching the Portuguese trading post of Elmina at the Guinea coast (in present-day Ghana).[24] Before 1484, Columbus returned to Porto Santo to find that his wife had died.[25] He returned to Portugal to settle her estate and take his son Diego with him.[26] He left Portugal for Castile in 1485, where he found a mistress in 1487, a 20-year-old orphan named Beatriz Enríquez de Arana.[27] It is likely that Beatriz met Columbus when he was in Córdoba, a gathering site of many Genoese merchants and where the court of the Catholic Monarchs was located at intervals. Beatriz, unmarried at the time, gave birth to Columbus’s natural sonFernando Columbus in July 1488, named for the monarch of Aragon. Columbus recognized the boy as his offspring. Columbus entrusted his older, legitimate son Diego to take care of Beatriz and pay the pension set aside for her following his death, but Diego was negligent in his duties.[28]Columbus’s copy of The Travels of Marco Polo, with his handwritten notes in Latin written on the margins

Ambitious, Columbus eventually learned Latin, Portuguese, and Castilian. He read widely about astronomy, geography, and history, including the works of Claudius PtolemyPierre Cardinal d’Ailly‘s Imago Mundi, the travels of Marco Polo and Sir John MandevillePliny‘s Natural History, and Pope Pius II‘s Historia Rerum Ubique Gestarum. According to historian Edmund Morgan,

Columbus was not a scholarly man. Yet he studied these books, made hundreds of marginal notations in them and came out with ideas about the world that were characteristically simple and strong and sometimes wrong …[29]

Did Black People Own Slaves? Posted July 2nd 2021

100 Amazing Facts About the Negro: Yes — but why they did and how many they owned will surprise you.

Nicolas Augustin Metoyer of Louisiana owned 13 slaves in 1830. He and his 12 family members collectively owned 215 slaves.

Editor’s note:For those who are wondering about the retro title of this black history series, please take a moment to learn about historianJoel A. Rogers, author of the 1934 book100 Amazing Facts About the Negro With Complete Proof, to whom these “amazing facts” are an homage.

(The Root) — 100 Amazing Facts About the Negro No. 21: Did black people own slaves? If so, why?

One of the most vexing questions in African-American history is whether free African Americans themselves owned slaves. The short answer to this question, as you might suspect, is yes, of course; some free black people in this country bought and sold other black people, and did so at least since 1654, continuing to do so right through the Civil War. For me, the really fascinating questions about black slave-owning are how many black “masters” were involved, how many slaves did they own and why did they own slaves?

The answers to these questions are complex, and historians have been arguing for some time over whether free blacks purchased family members as slaves in order to protect them — motivated, on the one hand, by benevolence and philanthropy, as historian Carter G. Woodson put it, or whether, on the other hand, they purchased other black people “as an act of exploitation,” primarily to exploit their free labor for profit, just as white slave owners did. The evidence shows that, unfortunately, both things are true. The great African-American historian, John Hope Franklin, states this clearly: “The majority of Negro owners of slaves had some personal interest in their property.” But, he admits, “There were instances, however, in which free Negroes had a real economic interest in the institution of slavery and held slaves in order to improve their economic status.”  

In a fascinating essay reviewing this controversy, R. Halliburton shows that free black people have owned slaves “in each of the thirteen original states and later in every state that countenanced slavery,” at least since Anthony Johnson and his wife Mary went to court in Virginia in 1654 to obtain the services of their indentured servant, a black man, John Castor, for life.

And for a time, free black people could even “own” the services of white indentured servants in Virginia as well. Free blacks owned slaves in Boston by 1724 and in Connecticut by 1783; by 1790, 48 black people in Maryland owned 143 slaves. One particularly notorious black Maryland farmer named Nat Butler “regularly purchased and sold Negroes for the Southern trade,” Halliburton wrote.

Perhaps the most insidious or desperate attempt to defend the right of black people to own slaves was the statement made on the eve of the Civil War by a group of free people of color in New Orleans, offering their services to the Confederacy, in part because they were fearful for their own enslavement: “The free colored population [native] of Louisiana … own slaves, and they are dearly attached to their native land … and they are ready to shed their blood for her defense. They have no sympathy for abolitionism; no love for the North, but they have plenty for Louisiana … They will fight for her in 1861 as they fought [to defend New Orleans from the British] in 1814-1815.”  

These guys were, to put it bluntly, opportunists par excellence: As Noah Andre Trudeau and James G. Hollandsworth Jr. explain, once the war broke out, some of these same black men formed 14 companies of a militia composed of 440 men and were organized by the governor in May 1861 into “the Native Guards, Louisiana,” swearing to fight to defend the Confederacy. Although given no combat role, the Guards — reaching a peak of 1,000 volunteers — became the first Civil War unit to appoint black officers. 

When New Orleans fell in late April 1862 to the Union, about 10 percent of these men, not missing a beat, now formed the Native Guard/Corps d’Afrique to defend the Union. Joel A. Rogers noted this phenomenon in his 100 Amazing Facts: “The Negro slave-holders, like the white ones, fought to keep their chattels in the Civil War.” Rogers also notes that some black men, including those in New Orleans at the outbreak of the War, “fought to perpetuate slavery.”

How Many Slaves Did Blacks Own?

So what do the actual numbers of black slave owners and their slaves tell us? In 1830, the year most carefully studied by Carter G. Woodson, about 13.7 percent (319,599) of the black population was free. Of these, 3,776 free Negroes owned 12,907 slaves, out of a total of 2,009,043 slaves owned in the entire United States, so the numbers of slaves owned by black people over all was quite small by comparison with the number owned by white people. In his essay, ” ‘The Known World’ of Free Black Slaveholders,” Thomas J. Pressly, using Woodson’s statistics, calculated that 54 (or about 1 percent) of these black slave owners in 1830 owned between 20 and 84 slaves; 172 (about 4 percent) owned between 10 to 19 slaves; and 3,550 (about 94 percent) each owned between 1 and 9 slaves. Crucially, 42 percent owned just one slave. Pressly also shows that the percentage of free black slave owners as the total number of free black heads of families was quite high in several states, namely 43 percent in South Carolina, 40 percent in Louisiana, 26 percent in Mississippi, 25 percent in Alabama and 20 percent in Georgia. So why did these free black people own these slaves?

It is reasonable to assume that the 42 percent of the free black slave owners who owned just one slave probably owned a family member to protect that person, as did many of the other black slave owners who owned only slightly larger numbers of slaves. As Woodson put it in 1924’s Free Negro Owners of Slaves in the United States in 1830, “The census records show that the majority of the Negro owners of slaves were such from the point of view of philanthropy. In many instances the husband purchased the wife or vice versa … Slaves of Negroes were in some cases the children of a free father who had purchased his wife. If he did not thereafter emancipate the mother, as so many such husbands failed to do, his own children were born his slaves and were thus reported to the numerators.”

Moreover, Woodson explains, “Benevolent Negroes often purchased slaves to make their lot easier by granting them their freedom for a nominal sum, or by permitting them to work it out on liberal terms.” In other words, these black slave-owners, the clear majority, cleverly used the system of slavery to protect their loved ones. That’s the good news. 

But not all did, and that is the bad news. Halliburton concludes, after examining the evidence, that “it would be a serious mistake to automatically assume that free blacks owned their spouse or children only for benevolent purposes.” Woodson himself notes that a “small number of slaves, however, does not always signify benevolence on the part of the owner.” And John Hope Franklin notes that in North Carolina, “Without doubt, there were those who possessed slaves for the purpose of advancing their [own] well-being … these Negro slaveholders were more interested in making their farms or carpenter-shops ‘pay’ than they were in treating their slaves humanely.” For these black slaveholders, he concludes, “there was some effort to conform to the pattern established by the dominant slaveholding group within the State in the effort to elevate themselves to a position of respect and privilege.” In other words, most black slave owners probably owned family members to protect them, but far too many turned to slavery to exploit the labor of other black people for profit.

Who Were These Black Slave Owners?

If we were compiling a “Rogues Gallery of Black History,” the following free black slaveholders would be in it: John Carruthers Stanly — born a slave in Craven County, N.C., the son of an Igbo mother and her master, John Wright Stanly — became an extraordinarily successful barber and speculator in real estate in New Bern. As Loren Schweninger points out in Black Property Owners in the South, 1790-1915, by the early 1820s, Stanly owned three plantations and 163 slaves, and even hired threewhite overseers to manage his property! He fathered six children with a slave woman named Kitty, and he eventually freed them. Stanly lost his estate when a loan for $14,962 he had co-signed with his white half brother, John, came due. After his brother’s stroke, the loan was Stanly’s sole responsibility, and he was unable to pay it.

William Ellison’s fascinating story is told by Michael Johnson and James L. Roark in their book, Black Masters: A Free Family of Color in the Old South. At his death on the eve of the Civil War, Ellison was wealthier than nine out of 10 white people in South Carolina. He was born in 1790 as a slave on a plantation in the Fairfield District of the state, far up country from Charleston. In 1816, at the age of 26, he bought his own freedom, and soon bought his wife and their child. In 1822, he opened his own cotton gin, and soon became quite wealthy. By his death in 1860, he owned 900 acres of land and 63 slaves. Not one of his slaves was allowed to purchase his or her own freedom.

Louisiana, as we have seen, was its own bizarre world of color, class, caste and slavery.

By 1830, in Louisiana, several black people there owned a large number of slaves, including the following: In Pointe Coupee Parish alone, Sophie Delhonde owned 38 slaves; Lefroix Decuire owned 59 slaves; Antoine Decuire owned 70 slaves; Leandre Severin owned 60 slaves; and Victor Duperon owned 10. In St. John the Baptist Parish, Victoire Deslondes owned 52 slaves; in Plaquemine Brule, Martin Donatto owned 75 slaves; in Bayou Teche, Jean B. Muillion owned 52 slaves; Martin Lenormand in St. Martin Parish owned 44 slaves; Verret Polen in West Baton Rouge Parish owned 69 slaves; Francis Jerod in Washita Parish owned 33 slaves; and Cecee McCarty in the Upper Suburbs of New Orleans owned 32 slaves. Incredibly, the 13 members of the Metoyer family in Natchitoches Parish — including Nicolas Augustin Metoyer, pictured — collectively owned 215 slaves.

Antoine Dubuclet and his wife Claire Pollard owned more than 70 slaves in Iberville Parish when they married. According to Thomas Clarkin, by 1864, in the midst of the Civil War, they owned 100 slaves, worth $94,700. During Reconstruction, he became the state’s first black treasurer, serving between 1868 and 1878.

Andrew Durnford was a sugar planter and a physician who owned the St. Rosalie plantation, 33 miles south of New Orleans. In the late 1820s, David O. Whitten tells us, he paid $7,000 for seven male slaves, five females and two children. He traveled all the way to Virginia in the 1830s and purchased 24 more. Eventually, he would own 77 slaves. When a fellow Creole slave owner liberated 85 of his slaves and shipped them off to Liberia, Durnford commented that he couldn’t do that, because “self interest is too strongly rooted in the bosom of all that breathes the American atmosphere.”

It would be a mistake to think that large black slaveholders were only men. In 1830, in Louisiana, the aforementioned Madame Antoine Dublucet owned 44 slaves, and Madame Ciprien Ricard owned 35 slaves, Louise Divivier owned 17 slaves, Genevieve Rigobert owned 16 slaves and Rose Lanoix and Caroline Miller both owned 13 slaves, while over in Georgia, Betsey Perry owned 25 slaves. According to Johnson and Roark, the wealthiest black person in Charleston, S.C., in 1860 was Maria Weston, who owned 14 slaves and property valued at more than $40,000, at a time when the average white man earned about $100 a year. (The city’s largest black slaveholders, though, were Justus Angel and Mistress L. Horry, both of whom owned 84 slaves.) 

In Savannah, Ga., between 1823 and 1828, according to Betty Wood‘s Gender, Race, and Rank in a Revolutionary Age, Hannah Leion owned nine slaves, while the largest slaveholder in 1860 was Ciprien Ricard, who had a sugarcane plantation in Louisiana and owned 152 slaves with her son, Pierre — many more that the 35 she owned in 1830. According to economic historian Stanley Engerman, “In Charleston, South Carolina about 42 percent of free blacks owned slaves in 1850, and about 64 percent of these slaveholders were women.” Greed, in other words, was gender-blind.

Why They Owned Slaves

These men and women, from William Stanly to Madame Ciprien Ricard, were among the largest free Negro slaveholders, and their motivations were neither benevolent nor philanthropic. One would be hard-pressed to account for their ownership of such large numbers of slaves except as avaricious, rapacious, acquisitive and predatory.

But lest we romanticize all of those small black slave owners who ostensibly purchased family members only for humanitarian reasons, even in these cases the evidence can be problematic. Halliburton, citing examples from an essay in the North American Review by Calvin Wilson in 1905, presents some hair-raising challenges to the idea that black people who owned their own family members always treated them well:

A free black in Trimble County, Kentucky, ” … sold his own son and daughter South, one for $1,000, the other for $1,200.” … A Maryland father sold his slave children in order to purchase his wife. A Columbus, Georgia, black woman — Dilsey Pope — owned her husband. “He offended her in some way and she sold him … ” Fanny Canady of Louisville, Kentucky, owned her husband Jim — a drunken cobbler — whom she threatened to “sell down the river.” At New Bern, North Carolina, a free black wife and son purchased their slave husband-father. When the newly bought father criticized his son, the son sold him to a slave trader. The son boasted afterward that “the old man had gone to the corn fields about New Orleans where they might learn him some manners.” 

Carter Woodson, too, tells us that some of the husbands who purchased their spouses “were not anxious to liberate their wives immediately. They considered it advisable to put them on probation for a few years, and if they did not find them satisfactory they would sell their wives as other slave holders disposed of Negroes.” He then relates the example of a black man, a shoemaker in Charleston, S.C., who purchased his wife for $700. But “on finding her hard to please, he sold her a few months thereafter for $750, gaining $50 by the transaction.”

Most of us will find the news that some black people bought and sold other black people for profit quite distressing, as well we should. But given the long history of class divisions in the black community, whichMartin R. Delany as early as the 1850s described as “a nation within a nation,” and given the role of African elites in the long history of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, perhaps we should not be surprised that we can find examples throughout black history of just about every sort of human behavior, from the most noble to the most heinous, that we find in any other people’s history.

The good news, scholars agree, is that by 1860 the number of free blacks owning slaves had markedly decreased from 1830. In fact, Loren Schweninger concludes that by the eve of the Civil War, “the phenomenon of free blacks owning slaves had nearly disappeared” in the Upper South, even if it had not in places such as Louisiana in the Lower South. Nevertheless, it is a very sad aspect of African-American history that slavery sometimes could be a colorblind affair, and that the evil business of owning another human being could manifest itself in both males and females, and in black as well as white.

As always, you can find more “Amazing Facts About the Negro” on The Root, and check back each week as we count to 100.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. is the Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and the director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African-American Research at Harvard University. He is also the editor-in-chief of The Root. Follow him on Twitter.

Re writing History , Déjà vu by Robert Cook May 4th 2021

Déjà vu is associated with temporal lobe epilepsy. This experience is a neurological anomaly related to epileptic electrical discharge in the brain, creating a strong sensation that an event or experience currently being experienced has already been experienced in the past.

Social Class divisions and exploitation of the lower orders are inconvenient truths of white history which have to be glossed over after being re evaluated.
The State using its power to invade peoples’ private space to enhance and consolidate its power, is nothing new. The Nazis turned it into a fine art.
According to BLM & Western Woke culture, the capitalist contemporary world is entirely built on black sacrifices, slavery and exploitation by all whites Blacks are all people who are not ‘white’ Caucasian. They are the great innocents and honest victims of history – I have heard all that before from the feminazis.
History is black and white, with powerful black voices demanding white history is re written to substantiate their key and leading role in creating modern civilisation. As a former teacher , I know that the National Curriculum has always been about what may not be taught. Now BLM interests are striving to create an interesting new ideological approach to history teaching. U.K schools and media are complicit in this white cultural genocide to create the new BAME supremacy.
The BBC are hideously spoiled white upper middle class dominated – with some rich well paid BAME . like the lady below, thrown in for a fake egalitarian image. It is all about pandering to the white masses to make the hectoring propagandist BBC look relevant still.
History has always been written by the winners. There is more to this initiative , as with the whole BLM thing , than meets the eye. History is also re written by the winners. Truth depends on power and point of view. BAME are trying to take over – they do not teach white history in black majority African nations.
Some people are so moronic they will all do well on ‘Uni’ history courses. They will become teachers.
It is an outrage that we have to pay a licence fee to sponsor BBC elite propaganda.
It is almost funny , but it is very dangerous. The last thing being encouraged here is critical thinking or awareness. The racist anti white pro black agenda has been set.
The history of Europe , like the rest of the human world , is one of bloody tribal warfare. European elites raised carnage and barbarism to a mechanised new high that just goes on getting higher. The French revolutionaries ideals of ‘Liberty , Equality& Fraternity were short lived.
Napoleon set out to build an empire, his aristocratic in bred rivals combined to destroy him , both sides using their enslaved white minions to do the fighting and dying for them. The Duke of Wellington , who went on to order The Peterloo Massacre, called his Waterloo troops ‘the scum of the earth.’
The elite still considers the white working classes scum. They would never permit these people a WLM version of history as they do their BLM protegees who serve their purpose. Whites are undergoing a process of cultural and ethnic genocide to make room for the BAME colonisation of Europe.
The white elites emerged by brutally enslaving and killing their own race, building home European empires before moving abroad to do dirty deals with other ethnic leader ( so necessary to slave traders ) , killing and enslaving where necessary , using armies of their own enslaved desperate peoples
Nothing really changes. White working people have endured so much misery , including two romanticised vile rich man’s wars, now they are supposed to take the blame for all the world’s problems, easing the path of mass immigration from BAME countries. Still , they always have the multi culture rainbow world and LGBTQI !

Suez canal: what the ‘ditch’ meant to the British empire in the 19th century Posted April 12th 2021

March 31, 2021 5.08pm BST


  1. Jonathan Parry Professor of Modern British History Director of Studies in History and Politics, Pembroke College, University of Cambridge

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The week-long blockage of the Suez canal by the Ever Given container ship has reminded us that the canal, though immensely important to the world’s commerce, is also very vulnerable.

Since its completion in 1869, it has symbolised global interconnectedness. But it has also demonstrated how fears, rivalries and bottlenecks have threatened to obstruct that connectedness. Its narrowness has generated periodic panic and neurosis in the countries which rely on it most – often meaning Britain.

In 1882, Britain invaded and occupied Egypt, from an anxiety to secure the imperial link with India which seemed imperilled by Egyptian disorder. Its troops did not leave until 1956, after the debacle of the Suez crisis of that year.

Though the waterway came to be hugely symbolic for the British, it is too simple to see it as the only driver of British imperialism. It was merely the third stage of the transit arrangements across Egypt forged during the 19th century: to create effective communication with India, British entrepreneurs, helped by the state, pioneered a river and road connection in the 1830s between Alexandria and Suez, and then a railway in the 1850s. From 1840, these linked with P&O steamers on both sides.

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In 1854, £6.4 million of currency was transferred across Egypt, as well as nearly 4,000 passengers. In 1851, the Royal Navy sent two warships to Alexandria to give “moral support” to the Egyptian viceroy’s approval of the railway, which was opposed by his nominal overlord, the sultan of the Ottoman empire.

In 1855, Lord Clarendon, the British foreign secretary, made clear to the sultan, the viceroy, and Napoleon III, the French emperor, that while Britain sought no territorial advantage in Egypt, it insisted on a “thoroughfare, free and unmolested”. The importance of this to Britain can be seen by the fact that, in 1857, 5,000 troops were sent through Egypt to quell the Indian mutiny.

In the 1850s, even Napoleon III accepted Britain’s primacy in Egypt, because of its ships in the Mediterranean and Red Sea. So did successive Egyptian viceroys.

So although the canal quickly became the most important of the Egyptian transit arrangements, its existence just confirmed what was already clear. Britain would stop any other power controlling Egypt, whenever the Ottoman empire tottered.

Power or trade?

In the late 1850s, then prime minister Lord Palmerston opposed the canal’s construction. This was not so much because he imagined that France could ever control it in opposition to Britain (though a few people did fear this). Instead he felt it could create a new source of tension between the European powers and raise again the questions about the integrity of the Ottoman empire that the defeat of Russia in the Crimean war seemed to have settled.

Locator map showing position of the Suez canal connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Red Sea.
The Suez canal: one of the most important trade routes in the world for more than 150 years. shubhamtiwari via Shutterstock

Many other British people did not worry about such things, and welcomed the canal as a symbol of peaceful global liberal modernisation. Likewise in France, Napoleon Bonaparte had, in 1800, urged an Egyptian canal as a way of challenging British rule in India. But most of its French proponents in later decades envisaged a civilising project uniting east and west and abolishing war.

Together with the completion of railroads and telegraph links across the United States and India, the opening of the Suez canal seemed a crucial part of the global communications revolution – something celebrated by Jules Verne’s novel Around the World in Eighty Days (1872).

International, but British

Britain supplied three-quarters of the canal’s shipping in 1870, and naturally became its major beneficiary. But as the historian Valeska Huber has shown in her book about the canal, despite the canal undoubtedly boosting the global free market, this process was neither trouble-free nor straightforward.

It helped the east African slave trade, and so created new pressures for its control. It also helped the spread of contagious diseases, prompting the establishment of a regulatory bureaucracy to monitor passengers, including on racial criteria.

Travellers noted the canal’s tedious bottlenecks, which meant that steamships were sometimes outstripped by dhows and camels, and were often vulnerable to canal works, strikes and accidents. By 1884, around 3,000 ships had been grounded along the route.

Moreover, British policy on the canal remained ambivalent. Approval of its contribution to international commerce could easily give way to panics that rivals like Russia might use it to attack India. In 1888, a major conference agreed to the internationalisation of the canal. All the European powers, the United States and the Ottoman empire stipulated that ships should enjoy free transit – not only in peacetime but also in war.

Britain, however, insisted on adding a rider reserving the right of the Egyptian government, which it now effectively controlled, to close the canal whenever order was imperilled. In the first world war, Britain closed the canal to enemy ships and restricted merchant use to daylight hours.

Satellite image showing, the Ever Given container ship after it has been moved away from the eastern bank of the canal with tugs operating on its seaward side.
Finally the Ever Given is moving after being stuck in the Suez canal for a week. EPA-EFE/Maxar Technologies handout

In this respect, the narrowness of the canal helped the controlling power to restrict access. Gladstone pointed out in 1877 that its dimensions made panic about a Russian assault on India via Suez ridiculous – ships could easily be scuttled there, or sappers employed to render it impassable in a few hours.

It is worth remembering, finally, the cause of the canal’s bottlenecks. It was built by a Franco-Egyptian private company with limited finances, which – until 1864 – was reliant on local forced labour. It was a ditch dug by conscripted Egyptians. Thousands died in its making.

The project allowed critics to portray Egypt as still a land of slavery. The biblical Israelites had escaped this slavery because of divine intervention, in the form of the parting of the Red Sea. The canal, the extension of the same sea, seemed – like the pyramids – to symbolise the oppression of the human spirit.

In that sense, the sight of the Ever Given wedged against this ditch has been another reminder of an obvious truth, that global capitalism rests on labour – the labour of those who toil now to make the factory goods that fill its stacked rows of massive containers. And the labour of those who earlier sweated to build this narrow link between those manufacturers and their markets.

Kenneth Clark at UEA in Civilisation (1969)

866 views•9 Mar 201670ShareSaveColm Gillis 27 subscribers Art historian Kenneth Clark visited the University of East Anglia, Norwich and presented part of the ground-breaking documentary Civilisation (1969) in front of the famous ziggurats.

Robert Cook’s’ Alma Mater 1971-74

Searching for Sir Francis Drake’s Golden Hind at Deptford, London Posted April 2nd 2021

Michael Turner and Susan Jackson,
supported by Sir David Nicholas, CBE

In 1998 Sir David Nicholas asked the late Ray Aker, president of the Drake Navigators Guild, California, if Ray could pinpoint the remains of Sir Francis Drake’s ship the Golden Hind. Between 1577 and 1580 this was the second ship to circumnavigate the world and the first to reach Cape Horn. Deptford Strand

Deptford Strand

© Michael Turner 1997-2010

On 4 April 1581, probably at nearby Sayes Court, Deptford, Queen Elizabeth held the most extravagant banquet since the time of Henry VIII. She then boarded the Golden Hind, which was moored on the River Thames. She had Drake knighted on the main deck. The queen consecrated his ship as a memorial and according to John Stowe, in his Chronicles reprinted in 1592, ordered “His ship to be drawn up in a little crecke neare Deptford upon the Thames to be preserved for all posterity.” Another contemporary commentator William Camden in his Annales of England 1615, which he began writing in 1596, adds that the ship was “lodged in a docke.”.

Oppenheim, in A History of the Royal Navy wrote that the ship was placed in a dock and filled with earth. In the Navy accounts, only £35 8s 6d was expended for a wall of earth around her. In 1624 a new wharf was constructed by most likely building a new wooden wall on the outside of the original. Ray’s drawings convincingly depict the scene. Golden Hind Dry Dock

Golden Hind Dry Dock

The creek is the key to finding the ship, but it was filled in during the 19th century and its exact location has been forgotten. This creek was on the site of the Tudor Royal Navy Dockyard which in 1742 became the Royal Victualling Yard. Ray Aker has discovered its most probable location from a curious zigzag boundary line separating Deptford and Lewisham. The boundary line makes no sense in the modern layout of streets, parks and buildings; but it does if it is the bed of the ancient creek because rivers, streams and creeks are frequently used for boundaries. The creek was filled in because its water was diverted for the Surrey Canal.

On the basis of Ray’s new evidence, he expressed a wish that Sir David Nicholas, Michael Turner and Susan Jackson urge for an archaeological dig to recover the remains of the hull of one of the world’s most famous ships. Ray Aker wrote to Michael Turner asking him to examine the site of the old creek, featured on his map, where he was sure the remains of the Golden Hind lay. Here Ray identified old structures on the riverbank that may have originated from the dockyard days. In May 2009 Michael discovered that contrary to Ray’s expectation, there were no buildings over the site: only concrete and open ground. This was the best discovery for a straightforward excavation. The site lay inside Convoys Wharf, with old structures remaining on the riverbank. On the up-river side of the structures are river stairs that were more than likely built from the bed of the creek to save excavation. I had to scale a wall to obtain the photograph of the site through barbed wire. The indented stairs are on the left of the picture. The site inside Convoys Wharf

The site inside Convoys Wharf

Michael Turner 1997-2010

A very significant part of the ship is likely to have survived because it would not have been entirely broken up, because the remains starting from just below ground level would have been left to stabilize the infill once the decayed ruins were covered over in 1668.

On Monday 25 July 1988 the Daily Telegraph reported that a pile of granite stones which once formed a cairn to mark the spot where the ship lay had been found in a derelict garage. They were “tidied away” in 1977 after a visit from the Queen and afterwards forgotten, with only attempted demolition of the garage bringing them to light. It was said that they were being taken care of by a local archaeologist who was hoping to return them to their original place of honour. This did not happen, so where are the stones and where was the cairn? Old dockyard plans may also show the exact location of the cairn. Since a chair and a tabletop were made from some of the timbers, it seems most feasible that once the ship was filled in and buried, cairns would represent a tombstone for this legendary ship. A drawing of the Golden Hind

The Golden Hind at Deptford in an earth-filled dock

Raymond Aker

Susan Jackson argues that the two main reasons for searching for the Golden Hind are historical and aesthetic.

Our historical knowledge of the Elizabethan race-built galleon is superficial because it is only based upon reasonably accurate guesswork, since the Elizabethan shipwrights worked without plans. The Golden Hind was a purposely-constructed early race-built galleon. Contrary to the opinions of some historians, she was not French built but her keel was laid at Coxside in Plymouth and her completion was recorded in the Plymouth Black Book. Finding the Golden Hind will provide historians with much needed information about race-built galleons. We are not going to locate remains on the grand scale of the Mary Rose but preserved in the mud there will certainly be artefacts such as weaponry and domestic equipment. Most crucial of all, will be the Golden Hind’s keel and her ironwork. This will tell the nautical historians what they have only been able to guess – they will know the length and breadth of the ship, from which her size and tonnage can be calculated.

Aesthetically this is not an anonymous galleon: but the Golden Hind, one of the most famous ships in English history. Initially the Golden Hind was a tourist attraction and was even used as a tavern. In the late 20th century, a silver model of her was used by Westward Television to front its programmes. Her image was used on the reverse of the old halfpenny, which is remembered by millions of Britons who used this coinage until 1971.

The world’s eyes will be on Britain in 2012 and what better symbol could Britain have than a galleon which against all odds succeeded so gloriously in circumnavigating the world? The remains of the Golden Hind should be perennially displayed a mile down the River Thames at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich in keeping with the wish of Queen Elizabeth I that the ship should be preserved “for all posterity”.

The End of a Beautiful Friendship: Houdini and Arthur Conan Doyle Posted March 31st 2021

Jill Harness • Monday, January 4, 2010 at 7:58 AM

It seems strange that a man best known for creating the quintessential detective, who based his deductions solely on reason, would also be one of the biggest proponents of Spiritualism around the turn of the last century. Equally strange is that a man who based his career of performing illusions and magic tricks was one of the most stringent disbelievers of the same religion. Perhaps strangest of all was the friendship of these two men, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini.

Good Beginnings

Houdini met Doyle while doing a performance tour in Europe. While the magician did not believe in Spiritualism, he had a strong interest in the subject and said many times that he did desperately want to believe, as he truly wished to speak to his beloved deceased mother. Doyle was already well-known for his support of the belief by this point, and was considered by many to be a saint of Spiritualism. When he met Houdini, he went about bringing him to some of the best mediums in Europe in an attempt to convert the magician. At this point, Houdini attempted to lead Doyle to believe that he was very open to the idea, but just undecided. He did enjoy hearing about the religion from a person he considered to be on the same intellectual plane as himself and not an entirely gullible person. Still though, the magician was able to see through the parlor tricks used by the mediums that Doyle brought him to. The more of the mediums he saw, the less convinced he became. While he did not yet begin exposing the frauds, he did record their methods and become increasingly frustrated with their taking advantage of people’s trust.

At Cross Purposes

Soon enough, Houdini started to begin his famous crusade against fraudulent mediums. He eventually even became part of a Scientific America committee offering a massive reward to anyone who could prove their methods were authentic –of course, no one ever managed to claim the reward. As his fame grew for these acts, Houdini even started attending séances in costume, taking with him a reporter and a police officer. Funny enough, Doyle actually supported these efforts at first, because he was afraid the fakes would damage the religion’s legitimacy. Although Houdini offered to show Doyle how to spot the tricks used  by mediums, Doyle insisted that the mediums he knew were extremely honest and would never cheat their followers. As Houdini started to push Doyle even further to admit the people were acting dishonestly, Doyle soon converted to the belief that Houdini himself was one of the most powerful mediums around. Doyle and other Spiritualists who held this belief claimed the magician actually dematerialized himself to make his famous escapes. They believed he was working to discredit other mediums so he could gain publicity and take his act even further. Doyle expressed many of these beliefs in his last book, The Edge of the Unknown. Houdini, unfortunately, was caught between a rock and a hard place with these accusations. He couldn’t actually reveal his tricks, but by not doing so, the Spiritualists still had ammo to claim he was a medium. While he simply stated that his escapes were all performed by physical means, these tales haunted him until his death.

Attempting to Convert Doyle

In an attempt to prove to Doyle that his performances only involved trickery, Houdini offered to perform a special trick for his friend. The two men were joined by the Bernard Ernst president of the American Society of Magicians for the test, which started with a room filled with a slate, five cork balls and some white paint. Doyle was instructed to choose one of the balls at random and then place it in the container of paint. He was then given a pencil and a piece of paper and was told to go wherever he wanted to write a message of his choice on the paper. Houdini and Ernst stayed in the room, while Doyle left the house, walked three blocks away and then wrote a message on the paper. He then folded the paper, put it in his pocket and returned to the house. Upon his return, Houdini instructed Doyle to pick up the ball and put it on the slate. The ball then began to roll over the slate, where it spelled out the words Mene Mene Tekel Upharsin, the same words Doyle wrote on the paper. While Houdini devised this test to show Doyle these methods all involved simple tricks, Doyle was convinced more than ever that Houdini was a medium.

Attempting to Convert Houdini

The two continued to be friends and spent a vacation together in Atlantic City shortly after Doyle’s speaking tour in New York. During the vacation, Doyle’s wife, lady Jean offered to perform a séance for Houdini. He accepted, trusting her sincerity and honesty, and tried to completely accept the realism of the experience. As stated earlier, Houdini wanted to believe, he still had not found anyone who was worth believing in though. He was particularly excited about the séance when Jean announced that she would be try to contact his mother. Houdini said, “I had made up my mind that I would be as religious as it was in my power to be and not at any time did I scoff during the ceremony… with a beating heart I waited, hoping that I might feel once more the presence of my beloved mother.” Lady Jean entered a trance during the séance and her hand started moving, scribbling words across paper, which Doyle then handed to Houdini. The message detailed his mother’s pleasure in finally getting to contact her son. They started off saying, “Oh my darling, thank God, thank God, at last I’m through. I’ve tried, oh so often — now I am happy. Why, of course, I want to talk to my boy — my own beloved boy — friends, thank you, with all my heart for this.” After the séance, Houdini wrote a small note on the bottom of the paper, saying, “Message written by Lady Doyle claiming the spirit of my dear Mother had control of her hand — my sainted mother could not write English and spoke broken English.” A few months after the Doyle’s returned home to England, Houdini went public about the incident. He said there was no chance his mother had been summoned in the séance based on her poor English and the fact that she never learned to read or write. He said he believed the Doyle’s did not deceive him intentionally, but were victims to their own gullibility. Doyle tried to argue against these claims by saying that language is universal to the dead. He also said Houdini was too nervous about the encounter to accept that it was his own mother speaking to him from the beyond.

The End of It All

After this, the pair tried to maintain some level of strained friendship, but the final blow came when Houdini began publicly attacking Mina “Magery” Crandon. His Scientific American panel was fervent in discrediting Mrs. Crandon after she came forward to claim the prize. Doyle was a huge supporter of Crandon, even praising her in his later book The History of Spiritualism. “The commission is, in my opinion, a farce,” he wrote, “and has already killed itself.” The two began privately quarreling, but by 1923, the were exchanging criticizing letters to one another via the New York Times. After they publicly feuded when their tours happened to cross in Denver, they stopped talking for good. A few years later, Houdini died. When his wife, Bess began clearing out his property, she uncovered a huge collection of books on Spiritualism and she opted to send them to Doyle. The author wrote back to her, stating his reluctance to accept the gifts though, because he thought Houdini harbored bad feelings against him up until the time of his death. Bess wrote back and said that Houdini had, in fact, held out hope of contacting his mother up until his death and even told her so on his death bed. She assured Doyle that Houdini carried no resentment towards him and that the press had greatly exaggerated the feud between the two. She best summed up Houdini’s thoughts by writing, “he was deeply hurt whenever any journalistic arguments arose between you and would have been the happiest man in the world had he been able to agree with your views on Spiritism. He admired and respected you –two remarkable men with different views.”

High Time For Return To Female Modesty – March 24th 2021

Women must not flaunt sexuality because nature has programmed males to respond. That is how people are made. We should be more like Muslims.

This is a comment on the following Windmil Girl article. Given the mass hysteria following the police officer who flashed more than his blues and twos before going on to murder a young female, , it is time to point out the unpleasant and peculiar truth that males are attracted to females . Females are atracted to money, power and uniforms. Clothes are an advertsiement of sexuality, wealth and power. Women are not innocents, men are not all guilty or potential rapists – a female fantasy , clearly absurd given the demand for viagra and rise of the LGBTQI.

Feminists like to say that sex change is impossible. So they should logically accept differences and not bandy around their desire to control and emasculate men under guise of equality. Female bodies attact men. So feminists are working on creating unattractive domineering cop loving personalities – shame about Wayne Couzens but he has done more to rapidly advance the feminist cause than the Pankhursts ever did.

Next step is to discourage women from wearing bright clothes and anything else drawing attention to their being female. The Muslim ladies set a fine example, with their dark clothes offering further camouflage during that health giving much needed night time walk on the common.

The reality that nature intended men to act stupid at the sight of women is denied. This s why so much about sexuality is secretive , guilt ridden, hyporitical and often perverted. It shoulld be seen for what it is, as the Americans used to say ‘bumping uglies.’ Or as writer and poet Samuel Beckett wrote in his poem ‘Cascando’ : ‘Thud, thud, thud of the old plunger, echoes of the stale words in the flesh again, sockets filled once with eyes like yours, the grapples clawing blindly at the bed of want, saying again, nine days never floated the loved, nor nine years, nor nine lives.’

We have come a very long way from the middle class hippy peace and love days of my youthfull student years – the hippies matured ( sic ) into hippycrits. There is no way back. Not even for the young or unborn. There are no good tunes to dance to anymore. R.J Cook

What a shocking scene. Dancing, especially to music , is sexual and should be banned. Women must fight against sexually exciting men, for their own safety. Doesn’t that make sense ? There is a whole new world of LGBTQI waiting for you. African women love having babies, averaging 15 each. Leave all that degrading work to them and get on with your career, self partnership and the ultimate empowerment. You will have a wonderful life to look back on in the lavishly expensive comfort of a COVID care home.
R.J Cook .

The Windmill Girls: Oh, what a glamorous war! Posted March 21st 2021

March 21, 2021

Forget the frontline. The legendary Windmill Girls served on stage – lifting the spirits of bomb-hit london and many a serviceman, as Kate Thompson discovers.

windmill girls
US servicemen would shout ‘Shake it, sister!’ at the girls

The year is 1941 and Soho is ablaze. Piccadilly Circus is bathed in a bright orange glow as German planes roar overhead dropping more bombs into the furnace. An incendiary crashes through the roof of some stables near Great Windmill Street, engulfing horses in rubble.

Out of the choking clouds of smoke emerges a curious sight. Two beautiful young women are leading six terrified horses by their halters. By the time the girls reach Vine Street police station and deliver the horses to safety, they are also belting out a note-perfect rendition of ‘I’ve Got Sixpence’.

Windmill theatre queue
Queuing down the street ahead of showtime, 1951. Image: John Chillingworth/Picture Post/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

It takes physical strength and a dollop of chutzpah to save six horses from burning stables, but it’s nothing to girls who are used to performing five shows a day, six days a week, right through the destruction of the Blitz.


When they weren’t performing emergency rodeos, Margaret McGrath and Anne Singer were working as two of London’s most glamorous West End performers in the now legendary Windmill Theatre. Known as the ‘Windmill Girls’, Margaret and Anne, along with a cast of other ravishingly beautiful young women, delivered escapism and entertainment to a war-weary London.

Joan Jay and fellow windmill girls
Glitz in the Blitz: Joan Jay (third from right) with fellow performers

When bombs and rockets rained down relentlessly on the capital, the rest of the West End went dark, but the girls and boys of this inimitable little theatre kept the Windmill turning. It earned itself the immortal slogan ‘We Never Closed’ and high-kicked its way into the history books.

As a writer, I have long been fascinated by the daring glamour associated with London’s most famous wartime theatre and longed to set a novel there. Who were these fabulous, red-lipped creatures who defied the conventions of a fiercely moralistic 20th-century society, to step outside the home and perform, often in nothing more than a whisper of chiffon? The theatre is, after all, perhaps most famous for its nude tableaux vivants who posed motionless on pedestals.

Margaret McGrath
Windmill legend Margaret McGrath

In 1940 The Lord Chamberlain (the censor for all British theatre) had decreed that nudes be allowed on stage, provided they did not move. This was strictly adhered to, otherwise the Windmill would have lost its licence and been shut down. The ‘Revudebelles’ (as they were known) certainly drew crowds flocking to the 320-seat auditorium, but the theatre also blazed a trail by offering up nonstop variety acts.

It might be easy to dismiss the wartime contributions of the Windmill Girls as fluff and organza-trimmed whimsy but, at the time, morale was pivotal. The government devoted many hours to discussing how to boost it, but they would have gained a useful insight if they’d visited the theatre’s stage door, where servicemen clamoured to meet their favourite Windmill Girl every night.

Charmian Innes
A photo signed by Windmill star Charmian Innes

The theatre itself became a second home to Margaret, Anne and other Blitz beauties like Joan Jay, Valerie Tandy, Charmian Innes and Lesley Osmond. The heart of their world was deep in the theatre’s basement, in their dressing room. During the bombardment, it was here they bedded in their negligées, tin hats at the ready. The basement was said to be the safest place, but would have done little to protect them had the theatre taken a direct hit.

windmill girls in dressing room
Bedding down in the dressing room, 1940. Image: Getty Images

In the dressing room, it felt more like a girls’ boarding school than salacious; many of the dancers were still teenagers, and fiercely safeguarded by theatre manager and father figure Vivian Van Damm, who moved his daughter Sheila into the theatre to protect the girls. It was an insular world: nights were spent listening to 1930s dance-band records on a wind-up gramophone, with lights out at 11pm.

Under the paternalistic watch of Van Damm and twinkly-eyed owner Mrs Henderson, the dancers’ performances became part of the war effort, albeit with a little more spice than the Women’s Institute. A rota was created, with each girl taking her turn to fire watch on the theatre’s roof, scanning for signs of enemy aircraft. If German bombers were spotted while the show was on the audience would be moved to a lower level, where a surprised GI might find himself squashed against a Windmill Girl wearing not much more than a couple of rosettes and a dressing gown.

Vivian Van Damm and the girls
Manager Vivian Van Damm and the girls celebrating the theatre’s 16th birthday, 1948. Image: TopFoto

The dressing-room walls were smothered with foreign banknotes, often with messages scrawled on them. Many of the young soldiers, sailors and airman in the audience knew the evening they were enjoying might be their last. ‘My mother Joan Jay kept a five-franc banknote that had the words, “So you don’t forget me, Rudi” written in French,’ recalls her daughter Vivien Goldsmith. During the war years, the fan letters were more poignant. Boys so far from home wrote letters from mud-soaked foxholes and military bases asking for a photo.

Windmill girls 1955
The Windmill Girls, class of 1955. Image: REX/Shutterstock

The Americans flocked to the Windmill. They cheered and shouted ‘Shake it, sister!’ and broke the theatre’s seats by clambering over them in a race to get to the front row. They appeared brash, but sometimes their letters told a different story. One young GI fell in love with a Windmill Girl and waited patiently for her in the café opposite the theatre every night of his leave – sadly, he was never seen again after D-day.

Mrs Henderson
The theatre’s legendary owner Mrs Henderson, 1932

Not only did the Windmill Girls succeed in boosting the morale of those in Soho; they also took their shows out to the troops, performing in aircraft hangars and canteens around the country. A parody quote, ‘Never was so much shown by so few to so many’, is attributed to an unknown officer following the girls’ show at an RAF base in Hornchurch.

windmill girls in sailor costumes
Hello sailors! The shows has something for all the services

Meanwhile, the girls faced their own share of danger. While the theatre was never hit, there were many near misses. Manager Van Damm recalled the night a flying bomb landed nearby: ‘At the moment we heard it [the flying bomb’s engine] cut out, we were in the middle of a graceful Spanish dance, the centre of which was a posing girl wearing a lovely big Spanish hat. As the V-1 detonated, everything shook and a cascade of dirt, debris and plaster came down. There was a hush after the explosion and in that moment, the posing girl slowly moved and made a long nose (five-fingered salute) towards where the bomb had been. It was a spontaneous gesture, and one which I’m sure the Lord Chamberlain would not have objected to.’

Mrs Henderson and Windmill Girls
Mrs Henderson (centre) and her wartime performers

Forces’ favourite Joan Jay was pulled from the wreckage of a bomb blast after nipping to the café opposite the stage door in between raids. She had 11 shrapnel wounds, one so bad she had to stuff her fist in it to stop it bleeding. After four months of hospitalisation and painful skin grafts, she returned to dance and sing her way through the rest of the war. She worked there for 11 years, before leaving in 1947 to get married. Van Damm gave her a marble cigarette box, inscribed with a message of thanks for her years of service.

Joan Jay
Star Joan Jay was badly injured in a bomb blast near the theatre. Image: Westwood/Popperfoto/Getty Images

The theatre continued running after the war and by the 50s it was a celebrated hotbed of British talent, launching the careers of Peter Sellers and Bruce Forsyth. But the 60s saw it struggle to compete with private strip clubs and so the bomb-battered little theatre took a final, graceful bow.

Sadly, the wartime Windmill Girls are no longer with us either. But never has history felt so blisteringly relevant, with their own unique brand of courage and swagger, the Windmill Girls danced and sang their way through the darkest of days.

My day with the Windmill’s glam grandmas

Kate, Joan and Jill
Kate, centre, with Joan, left, and Jill. Image:

There are only a handful of former showgirls left to continue the Windmill story and I was fortunate enough to meet two of them: Jill Millard Shapiro, 77, and Joan Bravery, 82, who worked in the theatre in the postwar years.

After getting in contact over Facebook, we arranged to rendezvous at a luxury hotel opposite the theatre’s stage door. Immaculately turned-out grandmothers, they were impossible to miss among the herds of tourists.

Jill was a 14-year-old convent schoolgirl when she had an interview that would change her life in 1958. ‘After I knocked on the door, I was shown up to see Vivian Van Damm, or The Old Man, as he was known,’ she said. ‘I remember running up flight after flight of stone steps, past a flurry of frilled and feathered Windmill Girls, impossibly glamorous with their carmined lips.

‘It smelled of perfume, sweat and greasepaint. But it was the noise that was most overwhelming. The sound of tap shoes, the humming of sewing machines from the wardrobe department and composers in the music room.’

When I asked if she knew any of the wartime performers, with a wry smile Jill told me she became good friends with Margaret. ‘Boy, was she a force to be reckoned with. But it was because of girls like Maggie, who braved the Blitz, that the Windmill achieved the status of a British institution.’

Both women were at pains to stress the hard work behind the glamour. ‘As Windmill Girls we worked longer hours than other West End performers,’ said Joan. ‘We earned our good name, or our cachet, as Richard Dimbleby once said.’

Joan and Jill also told me about the theatrical discipline and stamina involved in their training and about the infamous fan dances. The only nude performer the censorship law permitted to move on the Windmill stage was the principal fan dancer. Staying within the law required considerable skill on the part of the dancer, as she had to remain covered while manipulating the huge ostrich-feather fans.

‘Have you tried lifting one of those?’ Jill asked me. ‘They’re heavy!’

Joan was a Windmill Girl from 1959 to 1961, choosing marriage and motherhood when she was swept off her feet by handsome Larry Burns, who was one half of the Windmill’s comedy duo at the time. Jill’s five-year tenure ended in 1963 when she left to marry her first husband and have a daughter. In 1972 she married the American author and journalist Milton J Shapiro.

Neither of them will ever forget those remarkable postwar years when they did their bit to keep the Windmill sails turning. The final curtain may have come down but thanks to these custodians of the past, the impossible glamour of those times continues to shimmer.

Mar 4, 2021

Why Suffragists Helped Send Women

Discovering WW1 tunnel of death hidden in France for a century Posted March 15th 2021

By Hugh Schofield
BBC News, ParisPublished10 hours agoRelated Topics

A wartime picture of the German soldiers outside the tunnel at Winterberg

Not since the 1970s has there been such an important discovery from the Great War in France. In woods on a ridge not far from the city of Reims, the bodies of more than 270 German soldiers have lain for more than a century – after they died the most agonising deaths imaginable.

Forgotten in the confusion of war, their exact location was till now a mystery – one which the French and German authorities were in no hurry to elucidate. But thanks to the work of a father-and-son team of local historians, the entrance to the Winterberg tunnel on the Chemin des Dames battlefront has been found.

Three of the 270 soldiers whose lives were lost in the Winterberg tunnel
image captionSome of the 270 soldiers whose lives were lost in the Winterberg tunnel have now been identified

The urgent question is what to do next. Should the bodies be brought up quickly and buried in a German war cemetery? Should there be a full-scale archaeological dig so we can learn more about the conduct of the war and the lives of the men who fought it?

Should there be a memorial, or a museum?

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The two governments are still deliberating, but time presses. Because if the tunnel’s location is in theory still a secret, it is a secret that has been badly kept.

When I visited the spot a few days ago, it was to discover that bounty-hunters had been the night before. A three-metre deep hole had been dug near the entrance, and a collection of wartime artefacts – axes, spades and pit-props as well as unexploded shells – left in a heap.

The Winterberg tunnel lies deeper than the three metres dug by looters at the site
image captionThe Winterberg tunnel lies deeper than the three metres dug by looters at the site

We also found a human ulna – the fore-arm bone.

The looters had not managed to break into the tunnel – that lies even deeper down – and what they found are bits and pieces thrown up in the shell explosion that sealed it off.

Some of the debris uncovered by looters at the site
image captionSome of the debris uncovered by looters at the site

But no-one doubts they will be back, because whoever gets into the Winterberg tunnel first will find a treasure trove.

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In the spring of 1917 the French launched a doomed offensive to retake the hills that lie in a west-east line a few miles to the north of the river Aisne. The Germans had held the crest along the Chemin des Dames for more than two years, and they had a complex system of underground defences.

Near the village of Craonne, the Winterberg tunnel ran for 300m from the north side of the crest – invisible to the French – and came out to supply the first line of German trenches on the south-facing slope.

Map of tunnel
image captionA German wartime map shows the tunnel just outside Craonne

On 4 May 1917 the French launched an artillery bombardment targeting the two ends of the tunnel, sending up an observation balloon to get a sight on the north-facing slope.

For once their accuracy was formidable. A shell fired from a naval gun hit the entrance, triggering more explosions from ammunition that was stored there and sending a cloud of acrid fumes into the shaft. Another shell sealed the exit.

Inside, the men from the 10th and 11th companies of the 111th Reserve Regiment were trapped. Over the next six days, as oxygen ran out, they either suffocated or took their own lives. Some asked comrades to kill them.

The Winterberg tunnel

By a fluke of physiology, three men survived long enough to be brought out by rescuers, just a day before the crest was abandoned to the French. One of them, Karl Fisser, left an account for the regimental history:

“Everyone was calling for water, but it was in vain. Death laughed at its harvest and Death stood guard on the barricade, so nobody could escape. Some raved about rescue, others for water. One comrade lay on the ground next to me and croaked with a breaking voice for someone to load his pistol for him.”

When the French took the ridge, the scene outside would have been of untold chaos and destruction. Digging into the tunnel would hardly have been a priority, so they left it. The Germans retook the Chemin des Dames in a later push, but at that point they had no time either to search for remains.

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By the end of the war no-one could say for sure where the Winterberg tunnel had actually been. They weren’t French bodies inside, so it was decided to let them lie – as countless other bodies still lie unfound along the Western Front.

The woods grew back and the shell-holes became mere undulations in ground. Today the spot is popular with dog-walkers.

But a local man called Alain Malinowski could not get the tunnel out of his head. It was out there somewhere on the ridge.

Working on the Paris metro in the 1990s, he travelled daily to the capital and used his spare time to visit military archives in the Château de Vincennes. For 15 years he accumulated descriptions, maps and prisoner interrogations – but to no avail. The landscape had been too badly disfigured by bombardment to make any meaningful comparison.

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But then in 2009 he chanced on a contemporary map showing not just the tunnel but also a meeting of two paths that had survived till today. With painstaking care, he measured out the angle and distance and arrived at the spot, now just an anonymous bit of woodland.

“I felt it. I knew I was near. I knew the tunnel was there somewhere beneath my feet,” Alain Malinowski told Le Monde.

The site of the Winterberg tunnel

For 10 years nothing happened. He told the authorities of his find but they refused to follow it up, either because they did not believe him or because they had no desire to open up a mass war-grave.

Into the story stepped his son Pierre Malinowski, at 34 years old a maverick ex-soldier who once worked for Jean-Marie Le Pen and now runs a foundation in Moscow dedicated to tracing war-dead from the Napoleonic and other eras.

Angered by official obfuscation, Pierre decided to force the hand of the French and German governments by opening up the tunnel himself. This was illegal, but he thought it was worth the punishment.

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One night in January last year he led a team that brought a mechanical digger to the spot his father had identified. They dug down four metres, and what they found proved they were indeed at the entrance to the tunnel.

There was the bell that was used to sound the alarm; hundreds of gas-mask canisters; rails for transporting munitions; two machine-guns; a rifle; bayonets and the remains of two bodies.

“It was like Pompeii. Nothing had moved,” said one of the team.

Pierre Malinowski then covered up the hole, leaving the place as anonymous as he had found it, and he contacted the authorities. Ten months later, again frustrated by the slowness of the official response, he went public and told the story to Le Monde.

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It is fair to say that Pierre Malinowski is not a popular figure in the archaeological and historical establishments.

They believe he has not only broken the law. Without any authority of his own, and overriding the argument that the dead are best off resting where they are, he has also twisted the arm of government, forcing it either to open the tunnel or at least protect it.

And by his example he has encouraged other go-it-alone excavations – most of which will be conducted for purely mercenary motives.

Official reluctance to proceed with an investigation is clear. Diane Tempel-Barnett, spokeswoman for the German War Graves Commission (VDK), told German radio “to be honest we are not very excited about the discovery. In fact we find it all most unfortunate”.

It is hard to imagine the Commonwealth War Graves Commission taking a similar line if the bodies of 270 UK troops were found. But then World War One is often described in Germany as its “forgotten war”.

This picture of the Winterberg tunnel was taken under heavy artillery fire
image captionThis picture of the Winterberg tunnel was taken under heavy artillery fire

In fact efforts are under way now to track descendants of those who died in the tunnel – and with some success. The 111th Regiment recruited men in the Baden region of the Swabian Alps, and nine soldiers have now been identified who died on 4 and 5 May 1917.

“If I can help just one family to trace an ancestor who died in the tunnel, it will have been worth it,” says Mark Beirnaert, a genealogist and Great War researcher.

“What I hope is that the bodies can be brought out and identified by their dog-tags. Then what would be fitting is that they leave this cold eerie tomb and be buried together as comrades.”

That is what happened to the more than 400 German soldiers who were found in 1973, having died in a similar tunnel at Mont Cornillet east of Reims. Pierre MalinowskiBBCThere will be photographs and letters they wrote in their dying moments to their mothers, fathers and wives. Because they will have hoped that their bodies would soon be foundPierre Malinowski

Pierre Malinowski also wishes that due honours be paid to the men. “These were farmers, hairdressers, bank-clerks who came willingly to fight this war, and then died in a way that we cannot begin to comprehend,” he says.

He is scrupulous in his respect for human remains. The bodies he has found have been returned to the ground, and he will not let them be photographed. But alongside the soldier’s solidarity, there is also the fascination.

“The bodies will be preserved, so they will be like mummies, with skin and hair and uniforms.

“Remember the tunnel was where these soldiers lived from day to day – so there will be all their normal possessions. Every soldier will have a story. It will be the biggest ever reserve of human material from the First World War.”

More stories from Hugh

Related Topics

to WWI’s Front Lines

Doctors of the Women’s Oversea Hospitals Unit operated under bomb and gas attacks. And their all-female support teams built new hospitals—even the coffins.Melinda Beck

The unlikely band of American women who crossed the Atlantic into war-torn France in February 1918 included six doctors, 13 nurses, a dentist, a plumber, an electrician, a carpenter and a mechanic. They were the first wave of women determined to build hospitals to treat the war-wounded and help the Allied effort in World War I. But they had an ulterior motive as well: to prove beyond doubt that women were just as brave, competent and self-sacrificing as men—and thus deserved the right to vote back home.

They did so working shoulder to shoulder alongside men in makeshift hospitals, operating under enemy fire, treating soldiers and war refugees who had been maimed, wounded, gassed or ravaged by influenza.

World War I offered many new opportunities for women—and suffragist groups pushed for even more. At the time, only about six percent of American doctors were female and most could only find positions in hospitals established by and for women. Soon after America entered the war in 1917, four New York-based physicians, Drs. Caroline Finley, Alice Gregory, Mary Lee Edward and Anna Von Sholly, offered their medical services to the U.S. military and were firmly rebuffed because they were women.

But the desperate French welcomed the women—along with whatever funding and supplies they could bring—into the Service de Santé, which oversaw French military medical care.

The National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA), with some 2 million members nationwide, joined forces with the women doctors. At its December 1917 meeting, NAWSA pledged $175,000 to sponsor an all-female team of physicians, nurses and support personnel to build and staff hospitals in France. They called it the Women’s Oversea Hospitals Unit, deliberately leaving “suffrage” out of the title—”for fear it would queer it,” according to accounts at the time.

In all, 78 women doctors and their assistants risked their lives under NAWSA’s suffragist banner in World War I, but their stories remain largely lost to history. “Practically no information exists about the women doctors and the Women’s Oversea Hospitals Unit, outside of the rare mention in an obituary or the self-published pamphlet authored by a NAWSA volunteer,” writes Kate Clarke Lemay, a historian at the National Portrait Gallery who chronicled what she could find in her 2019 book, Votes for Women! A Portrait of Persistence.

READ MORE: How Women Fought Their Way Into the Armed Forces

‘Bombs Shook the Operating Room Theater’

Women's Oversea Hospitals, USA, 1918, World War I

Suffrage pin manufactured for the American market by the National American Woman Suffrage Association, to publicize their sponsorship of overseas hospitals to care for wounded soldiers during World War I, 1918. By underscoring the important and dangerous work women doctors were doing on the front lines, NAWSA hoped to strengthen their case that women deserved the right to vote.

The Women’s Oversea Hospitals’ first unit intended to build a hospital in Guiscard, in northern France, but the Germans had overrun it by the time the women arrived. Twelve of them dispatched instead to Château Ognon, a 17th-century estate-turned-military evacuation hospital outside of Paris. 

The French military surgeons who greeted their truck roared with laughter when they saw that their reinforcements were American women.

But the laughter didn’t last long. In the first 36 hours, the women treated some 650 cases. “Wounded men started coming in so fast there was no time to think of men people or women people, just human needs,” Dr. Olga Povitsky wrote in a 1918 letter excerpted by the Woman Citizen, NAWSA’s weekly newspaper. Soon the Americans were in charge of entire wards and operating alongside French surgeons.

Château Ognon, situated along the route German bombers took to attack Paris, was itself bombed in the Germans’ final offensive of the war. Dozens of patients, staffers and soldiers were killed or wounded as the Germans lobbed 3,000 pieces of artillery on the hospital between May 27 and June 16. But the women doctors never flinched. “Bombs shook the operating room theater and the barracks. Cannons roared and planes vibrated the atmosphere,” wrote Dr. Edward, who operated on more than 100 casualties in a 24-hour period under enemy fire.

For their bravery, the French government later awarded the Croix de Guerre to Drs. Finley, Edward and Von Sholly and nurse Jane McKee.

READ MORE: Women in World War II Took on These Dangerous Military Jobs

‘We Had to Do All Our Own Heavy Work, Including Making Coffins’

Other members of the first suffragist unit were sent build a 50-bed hospital at Labouheyre, in southwestern France, to care for refugees fleeing the German offensive. German POWs framed the barracks, supervised by carpenter Florence Kober, who spoke German. But the women built everything else, from furnishing the hospital with running water and electricity to outfitting it with closets and shelves.

“We had to do all our own heavy work, including making coffins,” Dr. Mabel Seagrave, an ear, nose and throat specialist from Seattle, later told a reporter. “Our plumber was a former New York actress. Our carpenter was just out of a fashionable girl’s school. Our chauffeurs were all girls.”

Directed by Dr. Seagrave and Dr. Marie Formad, a surgeon from Newark, N.J., the hospital soon grew to 125 beds and treated more than 10,000 refugees during its existence. The Women’s Apparel Association, representing the U.S. fashion industry from factory workers to department-store buyers, provided more than $100,000 for its funding.

READ MORE: Night of Terror: When Suffragists Were Imprisoned and Tortured in 1917

Treating Gas Attack Victims—and Being Gassed

In the summer of 1918, the French asked NAWSA to send 50 more women doctors, nurses and assistants to set up a 300-bed hospital in Nancy for victims of gas attacks, along with a mobile unit that could travel to the frontlines. NAWSA leaders scoured the country for female physicians with appropriate experience, but warned candidates, “This service may be dangerous and will require women of good nerve.”

Among those who volunteered were Dr. Marie Lefort, a specialist in skin diseases from Bellevue Hospital Dispensary in New York; Dr. Nellie Barsness, an ophthalmologist from St. Paul, Minnesota and Anna McNamara, a mechanic needed to drive the mobile unit’s three-ton truck and run the steam engine needed to heat water for baths and disinfecting clothes. Several of the women suffered gas attacks themselves, including Dr. Irene Morse, a lung specialist from Clinton, Connecticut, who died of the after-effects in 1933.

READ MORE: 9 Groundbreaking Inventions by Women

‘Thank God You’ve Come’

The signing of the armistice in November 1918 didn’t end the need for medical care as thousands of repatriates, many of them sick, wounded and starving, traversed the ravaged French countryside. Members of the Women’s Oversea Hospitals units stayed on for months in different roles. Dr. Finley’s group was deployed to Cambrai, on the German-French border, where 1,500 refugees were returning every day. When she reported to the commanding officer there, he said, “Thank God you’ve come,” Dr. Finley wrote.

Other American women transformed a bombed-out girl’s boarding school in Nancy into the Jeanne d’Arc Hospital, where they treated thousands more refugees. “These poor people come in on trains that have sometimes taken days,” wrote Dr. Lefort. “They have the hunted expressions one sometimes sees in animals.”

Several other women’s groups also sent female physicians to Europe in World War I, including the Medical Women’s National Association, Smith College and philanthropist Anna Morgan, the daughter of J. P. Morgan.

‘These Women Went Through Hell…and They Became Mostly Footnotes’

WATCH: The 19th Amendment

In all, some 25,000 American women journeyed to France during World War I to support the Allied efforts. More than 100 were decorated by foreign governments, but not one was ever recognized by the U.S. government for her service.

It’s unclear how much their hard work and sacrifice helped the American suffragist cause.

After many failed attempts, Congress finally passed the 19th amendment, which guaranteed women the right to vote, in 1919. It was ratified by the necessary 36 states in 1920.

But aside from brief newspaper accounts, the contributions of the female physicians went largely unrecognized. “These women went through hell just to get the opportunity to serve,” says Lemay, “and they became mostly footnotes in history books.” TagsWomen’s History

Comment There is the usual upper middle class feminist whinge element to this story. Ex servicemen were less than footnotes after the 1918 non negotiated peace settlement. Many ended up shell shocked mutilated tramps. The British Legion had to fight for a Royal Charter.

It should be remembered that upper middle class women handed out white feathers to men who were not in the ‘King’s Uniform’ in 1914. They mindlessly accepted the lies that Germans were all potential rapists and baby spearers. If they had any principles they should have refused to make the bombs, but then armaments were the only jobs going. It was the beginning of the age mass slaughter of privileged young white men, along with liberation of upper middle class women.

Upper Middle Class women made sure Germany was unfairly punished for starting World War One, thus guaranteeing the resentment that caused Nazism. This class mentality is redolent with the feminists , like Baraoness Sasha Bates , caling for male curfew because one of U.K’s weird coppers committed another serious crime.

Imagine the furore if I pointed out that young black males predominate in London’ drug and murderous gang crime culture. It would be called racist and taken as hate crime if I went on to suggest a curfew on all black males under 40. So , logically, this woman has committed a vile sexist hate crime by suggesting a curfew on all males.

The Everhard murder happened during lockdown when the only males free to roam such distance at night time, were police officers. so no surprise the killer was a cop.R.J Cook

This mentality stokes up resentment and reaction. Women are not angels, they tell lies and do commit hideous crimes out of malevolence and greed – often against children and other women. Women actually kill women. Feminists obviously need more men to hate women. They are of the dominitrix mentality , enoying cracking the whip.

History is , as they say, always written by the winners- or in the days of this cancel culture, by lackeys to publishers . In these days of Woke culture, feminists are the winners and they are re writing history. It should be noted that the , on average, suffragists were the non violent and long forgotten and decent minded wing of the women’s suffrage campaign. R.J Cook.

Britain’s vile elite did not take the country to war in 1939 to save the Jews. They went along with suffragette feminists to ‘squeeze Germany till the pips squeaked.’ The myth that German people wanted World War One, a war involving inbred monarchs of 3 of the 4 main protaganists, led to a harsh punishment and World War Two – again involving the British elite over empire , global power and money. March 7th 2021

War mongering aristocrat then plain Winston Churchill holding court among debris of wartime bombing, 1940. Image from ‘Portsmouth Voices’ by Robert Cook ( 1998.)
Portsmouth , like the rest of Britain, still dines out on the myth covering the disaterous Dunkirk and D Day landings, which killed or crippled thousands of ‘privileged white males’. Here a giant truck has just unloaded a big restored D Day tank landng craft which was dug up in the Thames Estuary. it is to be a money making memorial on portsmouth’s Southsea front.

I interviewed many veterans. One told me he wasn’t a hero because heroes have a choice. Another told me that he and others were vomitting as they approached the D Day beaches. My Uncle Charlie never returned and never saw his son , dying in a war for the rich elite who don’t care and will do it all again – hence all the bulls-it about Covid invoking the Dunkirk spirit. Dunkirk was a disaster and if Hitler had not been nuts he would have finished Britain off. If hadn’t been nuts and killed off Rommel and a thousand other officers, the D Day force would have been annihilated. R.J Cook


During the early 1930s, it was easiest for the wealthy to leave Germany and travel to Britain as these individuals had private means and good international contacts while those without these benefits found it more difficult to leave Europe. Britain, like the rest of the western hemisphere, was still recovering from the effects of the Great Depression and was reluctant to encourage immigrants who might challenge the British workforce for employment.

During the 1930s, many of the fears surrounding immigration were economic, which meant that cases were considered by how individuals might fit into the economy without detriment to British nationals rather than by humanitarian concerns. One might have expected professionals to have been welcomed over less skilled labourers but there was significant opposition to skilled immigration from several professional bodies, including the British Medical Association (BMA) and the British Dental Association (BDA), both of which were concerned about allowing foreign doctors and dentists to enter Britain to practice. Besides the obvious fears over competition, British doctors and dentists were unjustly suspicious about the competency of their Continental education as the majority had been banned from practising medicine by anti-Jewish discriminatory laws passed by the Nazis from 1933. Between 1935 and 1937, a mere 183 doctors and 78 dentists were admitted to work in Britain, an insignificant number relative  to the numbers already practicing in Britain; this was consistent with the Home Office’s policy of only admitting ‘exceptional’ cases, namely individuals internationally recognised in their field. Not all professions so opposed helping refugees. For example, architects allowed refugees to practise in Britain, provided they had professional experience, and many universities and colleges were quick to offer assistance to their European colleagues by creating positions for well-known academics.

Professions aside, shopworkers were invariably denied admission to Britain as their work was considered in direct competition with native British labour. Merchants were actively discouraged from trading in Britain unless it could be proved that their business would benefit British trade. The Home Office exhibited consistency in its approach of not allowing the British labour market to be jeopardised, even for a deserving cause. Therefore, opportunities for the immigration of refugees during the early to mid-thirties were limited.

Despite these restrictions there were still ways that refugees could and did enter the country. There were no restrictions on refugees taking jobs in domestic service. provided they had an offer of employment, and the majority of female refugees immigrating to Britain during this time arrived either as domestic servants or nurses. Many former middle-class German women used this as an opportunity to escape Hitler’s Germany but were only allowed to remain in Britain if they remained in service after their arrival. In some cases, once a woman had obtained a position, her husband might also receive an offer of work for the household as a manservant or chauffeur. The general British population were not aware of the persecution of minorities on the continent and refugees quickly learned not to discuss their suffering outside of the refugee community. It was also possible for students and schoolchildren to migrate to Britain for their studies, although they were expected to leave upon completion of their course of study.

Another essential criterion for refugees wishing to travel to Britain was that individuals had to demonstrate they would not need assistance from the British State. Various organisations such as the YMCA and other charitable bodies tried to establish schemes where young men could receive  training in agricultural work in Britain so they could then emigrate to jobs abroad. Ultimately, many of those able to enter the country did so on transmigration visas, issued on the understanding that Britain was only a stop on their journey to the Americas, South Africa or Australia. Under these methods, by the end of 1938, approximately 30,000 refugees had entered Britain.


In November 1938, Nazi organised pogroms, known collectively as Kristallnacht, erupted across Germany, Austria, and the Sudetenland. Jews were attacked and murdered, and synagogues, property and businesses were destroyed. In the aftermath, up to 30,000 Jewish men were arrested and transferred to Dachau, Buchenwald, Sachsenhausen and other concentration camps. In response to this surge of violence it became clear to the British government that anyone to whom they offered visas would likely remain in the country. The British Jewish community  quickly pushed for further assistance to help Jewish refugees escape from Nazi oppression and many rescue operations were launched with the Kindertransport and Kitchener Camp rescues being the largest.


From December 1938, under pressure from refugee organisations and British public opinion, the British government agreed to offer refuge to an unspecified number of children under the age of 17 from Germany and German-occupied territories. Every child had to have a personal or institutional financial guarantor in Britain and the expectation was that the children would return to their parents/guardians once the immediate crisis was over. In total, nearly 10,000 children travelled to Britain as part of the Kindertransport scheme. Departing from major cities that included Berlin, Vienna, and Prague they travelled by train to ports in Belgium and The Netherlands before sailing to Harwich on the east coast of England. In the beginning, many of the children were chosen because one or more of their parents were in concentration camps or the children were homeless or orphans. However, this quickly changed to choosing middle-class children who were considered assimilable into British families or who were ‘attractive children’ in the hope this would encourage more sponsors to come forward. Some of the Kindertransport children lived with the families who had agreed to sponsor them whilst others went to the Dovercourt Bay Holiday Camp, near Harwich, until longer term accommodations could be secured.


Less well known was the Kitchener Camp rescue, a British-run operation designed to offer temporary refuge to Jewish men arrested and sent to concentration camps after Kristallnacht. The plan was for the men in Kitchener Camp to transmigrate to other countries once they had obtained visas, with priority given to those expected to leave within a year. The camp was established at a former Army camp in Richborough, on the outskirts of Sandwich in Kent. The Central British Fund for German Jewry, now known as World Jewish Relief, oversaw the transport, maintenance and general care of the men along with, for some,  their wives and children. Altogether, the lives of some 4,000 refugees were saved by the Kitchener Camp rescue.


As soon as Britain declared war on Germany in response to the German invasion of Poland, all German and Austrian nationals living in Britain were automatically designated ‘enemy aliens’. During the First World War, male enemy aliens of military service age were interned, and many were repatriated. Aware that most German and Austrian immigrants living in Britain in 1939 were refugees from Nazi oppression, the British government wanted to avoid a policy of mass internment and instead hoped to use the refugee community to support the British war effort. After war was declared, around 120 tribunals were set up around the country to interview all enemy aliens and classify them into three categories, A, B and C:

A – Considered a threat to national security requiring immediate internment;

B – Considered suspect and subject to certain restrictions;

C – Considered to be a genuine refugee from Nazi oppression.

Between two and three hundred enemy aliens were arrested and interned immediately war was declared from lists prepared by MI5 of known Nazis and others potentially hostile to Britain. These internees were then joined by approximately 600 individuals categorised A by the tribunals, including known Nazi sympathisers as well as anti-fascists such as communists and trade unionists who were considered to be against the British war effort.

The vast majority of enemy aliens remained at liberty (though there were sections of the country in which they could not live known as ‘protected areas’, often near the coast). The tribunal decisions were notoriously inconsistent depending on the magistrate in charge with some overusing the B category while others classified almost all enemy aliens as C. This became a significant problem in May 1940 when B category women were interned.

The war put an end to immigration for the most part, though some intrepid refugees were able to enter Britain via ships from the continent until the fall of France. Those entering the country at this point without entry visas were arrested and housed in prisons in case spies and saboteurs were masquerading as refugees.


Until May 1940, British authorities saw no reason to intern the large numbers of enemy aliens in categories B and C. However, after the fall of Low Countries and France in quick succession, fears of the existence of a fifth column of German saboteurs grew. Encouraged by the tabloid press, which published unsubstantiated scaremongering articles about foreigners, the public started to call for something to be done about the aliens in their midst. The threat of invasion of the British mainland by the Axis forces remained very real, and consequently the government thought it prudent to intern all male enemy aliens, regardless of classification, between 16 and 60 years of age and all women in category B, sometimes with their children. The idea was not to intern all enemy aliens long term but to remove the immediate threat using mass internment and then release ‘friendly’ aliens only once their loyalty could be guaranteed. These arrests were made from mid-May until early July 1940.

By July 1940, approximately 80,000 Germans and Austrians had found refuge in Britain, even if briefly before migrating onwards. Around 29,000 enemy aliens were interned, comprising approximately 24,000 Germans and Austrian refugees, while the remainder were predominately Italians who were interned once Mussolini declared war on Great Britain in June 1940.

In 1939 and early 1940, the relatively few A category internees were housed in prisons and three holiday camps in Clacton, Seaton and Paignton. Their occupants were a diverse mixture of committed fascists and left-wing adherents including communists (some of them Jews), which led to conflicts between these ideologically opposed groups. It was some months before the fascists were separated from the refugees and sent to a camp in Swanwick.

To accommodate the huge influx of internees in May, June and July 1940, temporary camps were established all around the country in a wide variety of hastily requisitioned sites including empty hospitals, halls, barracks, disused cotton mills, and several racecourses, as well as an unfinished new housing estate outside Liverpool. Most of these were closed as the more permanent camps were established on the Isle of Man. The mass internment caused disappointment and despair among genuine refugees, though most recognised the move as an understandable response by a country facing imminent invasion. However, there was considerable frustration at the length of time it took for cases to be reviewed and releases made.


By the time the internees arrived at the Isle of Man many of the initial problems such as housing Nazis with refugees had been ironed out. Men were housed in various camps in the towns of Ramsey, Douglas, Onchan, and Peel. These camps consisted of hotels and boarding houses surrounded by barbed wire. On the south of the island, the towns of Port Erin and Port St Mary were used to house about 4,000 interned women and children, where they lived side by side with the locals (residents of the towns were able to enter and exit using residents permits). In the early days of internment, women were sent to Holloway Prison and if there was no one able to look after their children the children were temporarily taken into care. Once on the Isle of Man, children could join their mothers in internment and in 1941 a married camp was established in Port St Mary.

The internees were given a certain amount of autonomy in all the camps and were able to organise many aspects of day to day living including the creation of canteens, ‘popular universities’ where classes were given on all sorts of topics, concerts and other entertainments.


During May and June 1940, the British government feared the Isle of Man would not have sufficient capacity to hold internees so the Dominion governments were asked if they would be willing to look after the most ‘dangerous’ of the category A male internees. Canada and Australia agreed to assist, and four transports were despatched to Canada with one to Australia. The first two sailings were filled with category A internees, captured enemy civilian merchant seamen and prisoners of war but subsequent shipments included many B and C category internees. Tragically, the second ship to leave, the Arandora Star, was torpedoed on its way to Canada with the loss of a great many Italian and German internees. When news of this tragedy emerged, there was a public outcry and the transport abroad policy was ended but not before two further boats had sailed for Canada and one to Australia.

For those who made it to Canada and Australia their camps and conditions were quite different from those on the Isle of Man. The first ship to arrive in Canada held prisoners of war and both pro-Nazi and anti-fascist category A internees. Convinced that the British had sent only the most dangerous aliens, the internees were treated as prisoners of war. This set the tone for the following transports and it was a long time before the opposing groups of internees were separated. In Australia, by contrast, after a very gruelling seven weeks at sea in overcrowded and unsuitable conditions aboard HMT Dunera, exacerbated by mistreatment by their British guards, the internees found that the Australian authorities soon recognised their true identities as refugees and they were treated with a certain degree of sympathy. However, both Canada and Australia initially resisted the idea of releasing  internees into their countries, requiring that refugees be returned to the UK for their freedom. Ultimately they relented, and nearly 1,000 were released into Canada (predominantly students wishing to continue their education) with approximately 850 released in Australia to join the Australia Labour Battalion.


Almost as soon as the orders for mass internment were given there were plans to allow enemy aliens to be released. A series of White Papers were drawn up under which internees, provided they had been classified as C by the original tribunal or had been re-classified under a second tribunal as C, could apply for release. Initially, categories were limited to roles immediately useful to the war effort such as engineers, doctors, agricultural workers or those willing to sign up for the Auxiliary Military Pioneer Corps. Gradually more categories were created which made it easier for aliens friendly to the Allied cause to be released. Internees could also be released in order to emigrate abroad, although those in Canada and Australia had to return to the U.K. for their release before being allowed to leave for the United States. U.S. immigration regulations were later relaxed if internees could prove they had the money to pay the fare to America had they not been transported abroad. Review of all cases took time and caused much vexation, particularly for those who had been sent abroad. Many of those released went on to serve in the armed forces, the intelligence service, or their communities in other ways. A significant proportion of those classed as ‘enemy aliens’ at the start of the war ultimately remained in Britain and forged successful lives in their country of adoption.


From the point the Nazis assumed power and introduced discriminatory laws against Jews and other persecuted groups it became a necessity for those who had the financial means and the contacts to leave Germany. Still suffering the effects of the Great Depression, the British were reluctant to accept refugees who might either compete with the British labour force or become a charge on the state. Most immigrants arriving in Britain during the 1930s had to either have money or connections or be willing to work in service. After Kristallnacht, the trickle of refugees from Germany and German-occupied territories became a flood as it became apparent the Nazis wanted to expel all Jews and other non-Aryans from their nation. The Kindertransport rescued nearly 10,000 children and 4,000 men with some of their wives and children were rescued via Kitchener Camp. Many others were granted visas to Britain with the expectation that they would later emigrate, which many did. During the war these refugees were considered ‘enemy aliens’ and thousands were interned. The majority were released within a year to 18 months and went on to remain in Britain after the war, many becoming naturalised British citizens as soon as they were allowed from 1946. It is impossible to know the exact numbers who found refuge in Britain even if only temporarily while en route to another nation but somewhere in the vicinity of 80,000 refugees arrived in Britain during the 1930s.


To read more about the migration of Jewish refugees to Britain during the 1930s, see Bernard Wasserstein, Britain and the Jews of Europe, 1939-1945 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979) and Louise London, Whitehall and the Jews, 1933-1948: British Immigration Policy, Jewish Refugees, and the Holocaust (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003). The definitive book on Kitchener Camp is Clare Ungerson, Four Thousand Lives: The Rescue of German Jewish Men to Britain, 1939 (Stroud, Gloucestershire: The History Press, 2014). On the Kindertransport, suggested reading includes Vera K. Fast, Children’s Exodus: A History of the Kindertransport (London: Bloomsbury, 2010) and Jennifer Craig-Norton, The Kindertransport: Contesting Memory (Bloomington, Indiana: Indiana University Press, 2019). For more information on internment see Rachel Pistol, Internment during the Second World War: A Comparative Study of Great Britain and the USA (London: Bloomsbury, 2017) and Peter and Leni Gillman, Collar the Lot! How Britain Interned & Expelled its Wartime Refugees (London: Quartet Books, 1980).


Pistol, Rachel: “Refugees from National Socialism Arriving in Great Britain 1933-1945”, Refugees, Relief and Resettlement: Gale, a Cengage Company (2020).

Inside John Wilkes Booth’s Famous Family Posted March 5th 2021

Before Booth killed Lincoln, his brother saved the life of Lincoln’s son. And his sister wrote a secret memoir about her infamous sibling.Christopher Klein

As part of an illustrious family of stage actors, John Wilkes Booth was already a familiar figure to many Americans before he entered the presidential box of Ford’s Theatre on April 14, 1865. The Booth name had been emblazoned on playbills of American theaters for decades before John Wilkes fatally shot President Abraham Lincoln. Only months earlier, the assassin and his two brothers had appeared together on a Broadway stage in a benefit performance of Julius Caesar to raise money to erect a statue of William Shakespeare in Manhattan’s Central Park.

Thwarted by poor reviews in his desire to live up to his family’s theatrical reputation, the volatile John Wilkes, an ardent Confederate supporter, instead took center stage in an American tragedy. His slaying of Lincoln changed American history and the lives and reputations of many of Booth’s relatives—one of whom unknowingly saved the life of a Lincoln, and another of whom wrote a secret memoir of her infamous brother.

READ MORE: 10 Things You May Not Know About the Lincoln Assassination

Junius Brutus Booth: His Illustrious Actor Father March 4th 2021

Junius Brutus Booth, photographed in theatrical costume.

Junius Brutus Booth, photographed in theatrical costume.

Not until after the Booth family patriarch’s death did the irony emerge that he shared a name with the most famous of Julius Caesar’s assassins, Marcus Junius Brutus. Born in London in 1796, Junius was among the greatest Shakespearean actors of his age. Blessed with a magnificent memory and fluency in seven languages, the 17-year-old theatrical prodigy joined a Shakespearean troupe that toured the capitals of Europe in 1814 and gained renown three years later playing the title role of Richard III.

In 1821, Booth abandoned his wife and toddler son to flee to the United States with his 19-year-old pregnant mistress, Mary Ann Holmes. Although his popularity transcended the Atlantic Ocean, Junius was also plagued by dark thoughts. In the wake of the death of his 10-year-old son, Henry Byron, he attempted suicide by jumping off a ship at sea. Deepening alcoholism interfered with his performances and forced some theater managers to lock him in their dressing rooms to ensure he’d be present and sober when their curtains were raised.

WATCH: Full episodes of History’s Greatest Mysteries online now and tune in for all-new episodes Saturdays at 9/8c.

Junius required so much caretaking that his son Edwin was forced to leave school at the age of 12 to attend to his father and keep him safe while on tour. Following a set of California performances in 1852, Junius set sail for home in Maryland while Edwin remained out west with an itinerant acting troupe. Junius survived only a matter of weeks without his son’s care. After being robbed of his money in Panama, he drank rancid river water and died of dysentery on his journey back to Baltimore.

Mary Ann Holmes Booth

Born into a poor London family in 1802, Mary Ann Holmes sold flowers outside the city’s theaters. On October 9, 1820, the woman who would become John Wilkes Booth’s mother sat in the audience as Junius played the title role in King Lear at Covent Garden Theatre. That night, a starstruck Mary Ann met the married leading man, commencing a three-decade-long love affair.

Five months pregnant, the teenager later fled to the United States with Junius without even telling her parents. She gave birth to 10 of the actor’s children and buried four of them, including three who died in an 1833 cholera epidemic. Although she referred to herself as Mrs. Booth for decades, Mary Ann did not legally marry Junius until 1851, after he divorced his first wife. News of her son’s role in killing an American president devastated Mary Ann.

Edwin Booth

Edwin Booth

Edwin Booth, photographed as Hamlet.

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division

Considered the most accomplished Shakespearean actor of his time, Edwin even eclipsed his father’s fame. Born in 1833, the brother of John Wilkes made his professional stage debut at the age of 15 and stepped into the title role of Richard III in 1851 when his father was too ill to perform. Following his father’s death, Edwin gained his own acclaim during a worldwide tour, and Hamlet became his signature role.

Although plagued by alcoholism like his father, Edwin had his most successful year ever in 1864 while managing and directing the Winter Garden Theatre on Broadway. He brought his brother-in-law in as a business partner, but didn’t do the same for his brothers, deepening a rift with John Wilkes over money, jealousy and politics. While Edwin supported the Union cause in the Civil War and performed for Lincoln on the third anniversary of his inauguration, his brother’s increasingly strident pro-Confederate views caused a rupture between the pair.

After his brother murdered Lincoln, Edwin stepped away from the stage for nearly a year but found the affection of the theater-going public remained upon his return. In New York City, he built the Booth Theatre, which opened in 1869, and founded a private social club, The Players, whose members included Mark Twain, Nikola Tesla and General William Tecumseh Sherman.

While John Wilkes took the life of a Lincoln, Edwin might have saved one. In late 1864, he grabbed the collar of a 21-year-old man to prevent him from falling into an open space between a platform and a moving train in Jersey City, New Jersey. The young man he pulled to safety turned out to be the president’s son, Robert Todd Lincoln. In another eerie coincidence, three floors of Ford’s Theatre, which had been converted into war department offices, collapsed and killed 22 people at the precise moment of Edwin’s funeral on June 9, 1893.

READ MORE: Who Received the Reward for John Wilkes Booth’s Capture?

Junius Brutus Booth, Jr.

Junius Brutus Booth, Jr.

Junius Brutus Booth, Jr., between 1855 and 1865

Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division

The oldest of the 10 children of Junius and Mary Ann, Junius, Jr. was overshadowed by the fame of one younger brother and the infamy of another. Born in 1821 shortly after his parents immigrated to the United States, “June” never achieved the stage stardom of his father or his brother Edwin. Even his third wife, Agnes Perry, drew more renown as a thespian.

Although he had been on stage in Cincinnati on the night of Lincoln’s assassination, June spent several weeks jailed in Washington’s Old Capitol Prison with suspected conspirators. The eldest Booth brother confessed that he “wished John had been killed before the assassination, for the sake of the family name.” In addition to performing in small theatrical roles after the assassination, June managed Edwin’s theaters. In 1878, June and Agnes built a sprawling hotel north of Boston that became one of the region’s premier summer resorts. After retiring from the stage, June died there in 1883.

Asia Booth Clarke

The eighth child of Junius and Mary Ann, Asia was born in 1835 and considered to be the sibling closest to John Wilkes. In 1859, she married comedian and actor John Sleeper Clarke, who had been a schoolmate of Edwin, and the couple had nine children. Clarke managed Edwin’s theaters in New York City, Philadelphia and Boston.

Following Lincoln’s killing, Clarke was jailed for possessing a pair of letters written by John Wilkes to Asia. While under house arrest herself, Asia gave birth to twins. Clarke’s jailing irreparably strained the couple’s marriage, but Asia refused her husband’s request for a divorce. The family fled to London in 1868 to escape scrutiny.

After the assassination, Asia attempted to restore the family name by penning biographies of her father and Edwin. Although she sought her family’s approval in writing those accounts, she also secretly wrote of her memories of John Wilkes in a locked black leather journal, which she gave to English novelist Benjamin Farjeon upon her deathbed in 1888. Not published until 1938, The Unlocked Book: John Wilkes Booth, a Sister’s Memoir is an attempt to humanize the assassin as Asia shared memories of a young boy who loved butterflies and recited poetry. She revealed that John Wilkes was insecure about his acting career and chronicled his increasing anger toward Lincoln in “wild tirades, which were the very fever of his distracted brain and tortured heart.” Asia also recollected that her brother took it to heart when he received a fortuneteller’s prophesy that he had simply been “born under an unlucky star.”

vREAD MORE: The Final Days of John Wilkes Booth

Vesuvius’ Scorching Eruption Turned a Man’s Brain Into Glass Posted February 13th 2021

A new study reports on a shimmering black substance found in one victim’s skull.

Smithsonian Magazine

  • Brigit Katz

Read when you’ve got time to spare.GettyImages-960153998.jpg

The ruins of ancient Pompeii with Mount Vesuvius in the background. Photo by mantaphoto / Getty Images.

When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D., hundreds of people in the nearby town of Herculaneum fled to waterfront chambers in hopes of seeking shelter from the catastrophic explosion—a desperate plan that failed to save them from meeting gruesome ends. Among the few who stayed in the town was a roughly 25-year-old man whose ash-covered remains were discovered in a wooden bed during the 1960s.

Now, a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine suggests a shiny black fragment found within the victim’s skull represents remnants of the man’s brain, which was subjected to such searing heat that it turned into glass.

Located some 11 miles north of Pompeii, Herculaneum was a prosperous seaside town home to between 4,000 and 5,000 people before it was destroyed by Vesuvius’ blast. Though many residents attempted to escape, the researchers’ subject decided to stay behind in the College of the Augustales, “an imperial order devoted to the Roman emperor Augustus,” according to Teo Armus of the Washington Post.

The victim, likely a guard at the college, was killed by Vesuvius’ first pyroclastic surge—clouds of ash, rock and volcanic gas that “move at hurricane velocities and have temperatures of several hundred degrees Celsius,” per the United States Geological Survey.

Pierpaolo Petrone, a forensic anthropologist from the University of Naples Federico II, was examining the man’s remains in October 2018 when he noticed “something was shimmery in the shattered skull,” as he tells Alexandria Sage and Franck Iovene of Agence France-Presse. Petrone immediately suspected the material was brain tissue that had undergone vitrification, a process that occurs when tissue is burned at a high heat and transformed into a glass or glaze.

Human brains are rarely found among archaeological remains. When the organs do surface, they tend to be preserved in the form of a smooth, soap-like substance. As Nicoletta Lanese explains for Live Science, fatty brain tissue reacts with charged particles in the surrounding environment, transforming the organ into soap over time.

Petrone and his colleagues think the extreme conditions caused by Vesuvius’ eruption led something different to happen.

“[E]xtreme radiant heat was able to ignite body fat and vaporize soft tissues; a rapid drop in temperature followed,” the researchers write.

This burst of broiling heat, followed by a cooling of the body, transformed the man’s brain tissue into glass.

Several compelling signs suggested Petrone’s initial hunch was correct. For one, the glassy material only appeared inside the man’s skull; it failed to surface anywhere else on the skeleton, in the surrounding volcanic ash or at other locations within the archaeological site. Charred wood discovered within the college indicated that temperatures reached nearly 970 degrees Fahrenheit—a clear indication that “extreme radiant heat” was indeed a factor in the man’s death.

Testing of the glass samples also revealed fatty acids consistent with those found in human hair, though as the Post points out, animals and vegetables also contain such substances, so the results aren’t conclusive. More compelling was the discovery of several proteins “highly expressed in human brain tissues” within the samples, according to the researchers.

The new report offers further (and rather horrifying) insight into how Vesuvius’ victims died—a subject that continues to confound experts. Yet another new study published in the journal Antiquity suggests the unfortunate ancients suffocated from the volcano’s toxic fumes, their bodies “baking” after they died. This research, in fact, contradicts a 2018 study headed by Patrone, which found that a pyroclastic surge made victims’ blood boil and their skulls explode.

In light of his new findings, Patrone hopes the glassy brain fragments can shed further insight into the identity of the unknown victim. Ancient DNA has previously been used to establish family ties between people who died in Vesuvius’ eruption.

“If we manage to reheat the material, liquefy it,” Patrone tells AFP, “we could maybe find this individual’s DNA.”

Brigit Katz is a freelance writer based in Toronto. Her work has appeared in a number of publications, including NYmag.com, Flavorwire and Tina Brown Media’s Women in the World.

How to be a genius

I travelled the world and trawled the archive to unearth the hidden lessons from history’s most brilliant people Posted February 4th 2021

Craig Wright

is professor emeritus of music at Yale University and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. His most recent book is The Hidden Habits of Genius: Beyond Talent, IQ, and Grit Unlocking the Secrets of Greatness (2020). He continues to teach the ‘genius course’ at Yale annually.

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Don’t get me wrong – yes, I’m a professor at Yale University, but I’m no genius. When I first mentioned to our four grown children that I was going to teach a new course on genius, they thought that was the funniest thing they’d ever heard. ‘You, you’re no genius! You’re a plodder.’ And they were right. So how did it come to pass that now, some dozen years later, I continue to teach a successful course on genius at Yale, and have written an Amazon Book of the Year selection, The Hidden Habits of Genius (2020). The answer: I must have, as Nikola Tesla urged, ‘the boldness of ignorance’.

I started my professional life trying to be a concert pianist, back in the days of the Cold War. The United States was then trying to beat the Soviet Union at its own games. In 1958, Van Cliburn, a 23-year-old pianist from Texas, won the inaugural International Tchaikovsky Competition, something akin to the Olympics of classical music. And then in 1972, Brooklyn’s Bobby Fischer defeated Boris Spassky in chess. Because I had shown an interest in music, and was also tall with enormous hands, I, too, would become the next Cliburn, at least so my mother declared.

Although our family wasn’t wealthy, my parents managed to provide me with a Baldwin grand piano and find the best teachers in our hometown of Washington, DC. Soon, I was packed off to the prestigious Eastman School of Music, where, once again, every opportunity was placed before me. And I had a strong work ethic: by the age of 21, I had engaged, by my estimation, in 15,000 hours of focused practice. (Mozart had needed only 6,000 to get to the level of master-composer and performer.) Yet, within two years, I could see that I would never earn a dime as a concert pianist. I had everything going for me except one: I lacked musical talent. No special memory for music, no exceptional hand-eye coordination, no absolute pitch – all things very necessary to a professional performer.

‘If you can’t compose, you perform; and if you can’t perform, you teach’ – that’s the mantra of conservatoires such as the Eastman School of Music. But who wants to spend each day in the same studio teaching other likely soon-to-fail pianists? My intuition was to find a larger arena in a university. So off I went to Harvard to learn to become a college professor and a researcher of music history – a musicologist, as it’s called. Eventually, I found employment at Yale as a classroom instructor teaching the ‘three Bs:’ Bach, Beethoven and Brahms. Yet the most captivating composer I ran into there was an M: Mozart. My interest in him accelerated with the appearance of the Academy Award-winning film Amadeus (1984). For a time, the entire world seemed obsessed with this funny, passionate and naughty character.

Thus it was a movie, of all things, that caused me to shift the focus of my academic research to Mozart. Yet the cardinal principle of scholarship I’d been taught at Harvard remained the same: if you seek the truth, consult the original primary sources; the rest is simply hearsay. Thus, over the course of 20 years, I went in search of Mozart in libraries in Berlin, Salzburg, Vienna, Krakow, Paris, New York and Washington, studying his autograph (or handwritten) music manuscripts. I found that Mozart could effortlessly conceive of great swaths of music entirely in his head, with almost no corrections. What Salieri said of Mozart in Amadeus no longer seems so fanciful: here ‘was the very voice of God’.

To hold in your hands the divine pages of a Mozart autograph – even if wearing the oft-required white gloves – is at the same time an honour and an exhilaration. The fluctuating angles of his pen, changing size of his note heads and varying tints of ink provide an insight as to how his mind is working. As if invited into Mozart’s study, you watch as this genius, empowered by his huge natural gifts, enters a creative zone, and the music just pours forth.

What other genius, I wondered, worked like Mozart? Here again, it was the autograph manuscripts that drew me in. Who among us has not been attracted to the fascinating designs of Leonardo da Vinci – his sketches of ingenious machines and instruments of war, as well as pacifist paintings? Unlike the original manuscripts of Mozart, the drawings and notes of Leonardo (some 6,000 pages survive) have mostly been published in facsimile editions, and many are now available online.

If Mozart could hear in his head how the music ought to go, Leonardo, judging from his sketches, could simply see in his mind’s eye how the machine should work or the painting should look. Here, too, Leonardo’s natural technical facility is manifest, as seen in the hand-eye coordination that results in correct proportions and the cross-hatching lines that suggest three-dimensional perception. Likewise evident is Leonardo’s relentless curiosity. We watch his mind range across an endless horizon of interconnected interests; on one page, for example, a heart becomes the branches of a tree, which then become the tentacles of a mechanical pulley. How do all these seemingly disparate things of the world hang together? Leonardo wanted to know. With good reason, the cultural historian Kenneth Clark called him ‘the most relentlessly curious man in history’.

Mozart in music, Leonardo in art; what about the everyday world of politics? Here the perfect subject of a study of genius was close at hand: Elizabeth I, queen of England. The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale owns copies of every history of her reign written by her contemporaries. The secret to her success? Elizabeth not only read books voraciously (three hours a day was her wont) but also people. She read, she studied, she observed, and she kept her mouth shut (Video et taceo was her motto). By knowing all and saying little, Elizabeth ruled for nearly 45 years, laid the foundations of the British empire and fledgling capitalist corporations, and gave her name to an entire epoch, the Elizabethan era.

Fascinating! I was learning so much. Why not have students learn along with me – after all, that’s why we have these young people cluttering up the place! And that’s how my genius course – or ‘Exploring the Nature of Genius’ – came to be.

Dark Ages January 3rd 2021

Whether it’s the idea of barbarian hordes run amok across a continent ruled by the Romans for centuries, or the notion that science and the arts went through a 300-year freeze, the concept of the Dark Ages has always titillated the imagination.

In truth, a big part of what makes the era dark to modern eyes is the relative lack of surviving information. But what we don’t know has always been at least as interesting as what we do know. Did King Arthur really exist, let alone send his knights on a quest to find the Holy Grail? Was there ever a legendary hero named Beowulf, and how long had his story existed before the oldest known surviving manuscript appeared in roughly the 10th century?

Of course, the Dark Ages also refers to a less-than-heroic time in history supposedly marked by a dearth of culture and arts, a bad economy, worse living conditions and the relative absence of new technology and scientific advances. While the period continues to fascinate history buffs, scholars and fantasy fans looking for some tangible link to their favorite mytho-historical heroes, the term “Dark Ages” has largely fallen out of use among serious researchers, due to some of the implications and assumptions made by those who first propagated its use.

“No academic uses it today — because it’s actually one of the most fascinating and vibrant periods about which we are discovering new knowledge every year,” says Julia Smith, a professor of medieval history at the University of Oxford’s All Souls College. 

Let’s take a closer look at those aspects of the period that scholars typically refer to now as the Early Middle Ages to separate, the dark from the light.

Shadows of the Empires 

The origin of the term “Dark Ages” is itself a little murky in the historical record, but typically it was used in contrast to the praiseheaped on the shining cultural achievements of the Greek and Roman empires, compared to the knowledge and culture that existed after their decline and fall.

This concept carried on into the Age of Enlightenment, when many scholars of the day pointed to the great architectural achievements of the Romans and compared them to a return to simpler wood structures of the following period, says Alban Gautier, a professor of medieval history at the University of Caen-Normandy in France. The idea of a dark, barbarian period was also pointed out in contrast to 19th century civilizations in Europe and America.

“This phrase is deeply steeped in the 19th century western European idea that some civilizations are superior to others, which today sounds very difficult to hear,” Gautier says.

Gautier believes the term still has some use in a strictly academic sense — particularly as it applies to historians. While the Romans were excellent record keepers, historical texts and documents are comparatively scarce starting with the 5th century and for several hundred years thereafter.

“It’s dark for historians. It’s difficult for historians to understand what happened,” he says.

Art in Darkness

But Gautier points to notable exceptions. After the Roman apparatus collapsed, taking with it many of its institutions, such as secular schools, the Catholic Church stepped in to provide some form of learning and scholarship in many parts of Europe.

“The Church in western Europe and all the regions north of the Mediterranean becomes the biggest element of stability,” he says. Monks worked to copy much of the literature and scientific texts of the Roman period, and to a lesser degree the Greek period.

“Of course they had a religious agenda, but in order to forward this agenda, they had to know Latin,” Gautier says. “Knowing Latin grammar meant keeping knowledge and learning from the Latin texts.”

Meanwhile in England, the absence of many works of significant writing dating to this period doesn’t mean society was idle. In fact, some of the most enduring legendary characters of England emerged in this period. In what’s attributed to a 6th century Welsh poet, the earliest known reference to England’s most famous heroic monarch comes in a form of comparison, when the poet describes a warrior who killed many people, but noted that this fighter “was no Arthur,” says Bryan Ward-Perkins, a professor at the University of Oxford and author of The Fall of Rome and the End of Civilization. And while the oldest written poem of warrior Beowulf dates roughly to the 10th century, some scholars believe the legend was taken from oral traditions that date back far earlier.

Dark Economy

Another common characteristic associated with the Dark Ages is the relative lack of monumental architecture. Towns and cities no longer built large new stone structures. And the slow deterioration of Roman infrastructure such as aqueducts likely had an effect on quality of life in cities, Gautier says.

Populations of major cities like Rome and Constantinople shrank in this period. But Gautier believes rural life may have actually improved, especially in the largely bucolic British Isles. During the Roman period, farmers would have had to pay regular taxes to support the empire and local cities. But as administration fell apart, the tax burden likely diminished.

“The cities and the towns were smaller. It was less necessary for farmers to produce and work a lot in order to feed the cities,” Gautier says.

But Ward-Perkins says that archaeological evidence does suggest some scarcity of resources and goods for common people. “The other way it might be dark is just the lack of evidence, which is probably a symptom of economic decline,” he says. By 450, the evidence of simple day-to-day items such as new coins, pottery or roof tiles largely disappeared in many parts of Europe, and wasn’t found again until roughly 700. 

Barbarian Science

As for the claims that societies took a step back in terms of science and understanding during this period? While it’s true that western Europe didn’t show as many achievements in technology or science in the Dark Ages as it would demonstrate later, those shortcomings were countered by an explosion in culture and learning in the southern Mediterranean, with the first few Islamic caliphates.

Europe itself did maintain some practical technology, such as watermills. In terms of learning, Isidore of Seville, an archbishop and scholar, created an encyclopedia of classical knowledge, much of which would have been otherwise lost, in his massive Etymologiae. The relative isolation of the British Isles also allowed people there to develop unique styles of jewelry and ornate masks, Ward-Perkins says. Some of these can be found today in the archaeological excavation of graves of Sutton Hoo in eastern Anglia, which included a Viking ship burial.

“The relative dearth of written sources is more than counterbalanced by the huge amount of archaeological evidence,” Smith says.

While the Dark Ages may have started with the fall of the Roman Empire, the Medieval period, around the end of the 8th century, begins to see the rise of such leaders as Charlemagne in France, whose reign united much of Europe and brought continuity under the auspices of the Holy Roman Empire.

Although most scholars would agree that the so-called Dark Ages represent a distinct period throughout most of Europe, many of the assumptions that first made that term popular are no longer valid. Even the most persistent idea that the period represents one of violence, misery and backwards thinking has been largely disproven. 

“The idea that’s completely out of fashion these days is that it was dark because it was morally worse,” Ward-Perkins says. But these days, he notes with a touch of dark humor, “everybody pretty much accepts that humans are pretty horrid all the time.”

The Hapsburgs Posted January 2nd 2021

Martyn Rady is Masaryk professor of central European history at University College London. He is the author of The Habsburgs: The Rise and Fall of a World Power (Allen Lane, 2020)

If the great dynasties of central Europe have one thing in common, it is that they don’t know when they’re beaten. They are history’s great survivors. The German Wittelsbachs ruled Bavaria and the Palatinate from the 12th to the 20th centuries – a 700-year lifecycle that encompassed everything from the High Middle Ages to the First World War.

The Guelphs of Hanover and Brunswick, whose line can be traced with some certainty back to the ninth century, were just as resilient, acquiring the British throne (through King George I) in the 18th century, and subsequently marrying into the Greek, Danish and Spanish royal families.

Yet of all Europe’s dynasties, surely none displayed a greater capacity for self-preservation than the Habsburgs. From inbreeding and infighting to ruinous religious schisms, all manner of calamities threatened to drive this remarkable family into extinction. Yet nothing could stop it dominating swathes of central Europe and beyond from the Middle Ages into the modern era.

We can confidently trace the Habsburgs’ origins to 10th-century Switzerland, where among their earliest possessions was the Castle Habsburg that gave the family its name. Then a part of the Holy Roman Empire, the Aargau region was lush, watered by the Alpine rivers, and it straddled the commercial routes that later joined northern Italy to the great fairs of Champagne and Flanders. Its wealth was the starting-point for the Habsburgs’ rise to power.

Chance played a part in their ascent, too, since the Habsburgs outlived most of their neighbours and, on their expiry, went off with their lands. In the general chaos that attended the collapse of the Hohenstaufen line of emperors in the mid-13th century, Count Rudolf of Habsburg was elected king of Germany. In his own description, an “insatiable man of war”, Rudolf used the opportunity to capture Austria and what is now Slovenia. His successors pushed towards the Adriatic and took the Tyrol in the 14th century. They became Holy Roman Emperors in the mid-15th century, and shortly after-wards took possession of the Low Countries.

Philip the Handsome and Juana of Castile

Philip the Handsome and Juana of Castile shown in a relief in the Royal Chapel of Granada. (Image by Alamy)

Pulled east and west

That wasn’t the end of the Habsburgs’ expansion. In the 16th century, they exploded outwards, obtaining Spain by way of a lucky marriage between Philip the Handsome, son of the future Habsburg emperor Maximilian (ruled 1508–19), and the Spanish princess Juana of Castile in 1496. Along with it came an overseas empire that would eventually include much of the New World, the Philippines, northern Taiwan, Guam and outposts on the Chinese, west African and Indian coasts. The Habsburgs were the first European rulers to found an empire upon which the sun never set or, as was said at the time, where the mass was in continuous celebration. Philip and Juana’s son, Charles V, who became Holy Roman Emperor in 1519, was the first “world monarch”, whose dominions extended across four continents.

The Habsburgs were the first European rulers to found an empire upon which the sun never set

But with great power came new threats. Keeping Hungary and Bohemia out of the double clutches of the Turks and Protestants preoccupied the Habsburgs for centuries. The acquisition of their large central European territory pulled the Habsburgs in two directions, westwards and eastwards. Following the abdication of Emperor Charles V in 1555–56, one branch, headed by Charles’s son Philip II, ruled Spain and the Low Countries, while a second, led by Charles’s brother Archduke Ferdinand, presided over the Holy Roman Empire (including Austria and Bohemia) and Hungary.

Wine and women

To survive and prosper, all dynasties need a little good fortune, and the Habsburgs certainly had that – especially in the realm of biology. On average, princely and noble dynasties in premodern Europe had a 15 per cent failure rate every 25 years. In other words, about a half perished through a lack of male heirs every century.

With so much at stake, many Habsburgs took care to have plenty of children. The first Habsburg rulers of Austria, in the 13th and 14th centuries, generally aimed for a dozen, while Empress Maria Theresa (ruled 1740– 80) had no fewer than 16 in just two decades.

Habsburg men were expected to be busy in the bedroom as it was thought that wombs needed frequent lubrication to stop them from shrivelling. Since fecundity and the production of sons were believed to be related to personal piety, most Habsburg rulers and their wives were also conspicuous in their dedication to the Catholic faith.

Other methods were used to aid fertility. To make sure that his fiancée, Elisabeth Christine of Brunswick-Wolfenbüttel, was up to the task, Emperor Charles VI (ruled 1711–40) obliged her before marriage to go through a humiliating gynaecological examination under the oversight of a Jesuit priest. Thereafter, he plied her with copious draughts of red wine in the belief that they were an aid to conception. The quack remedy backfired, transforming the once dazzling ‘Lily White’ (‘Weisse Liesl’) into an obese alcoholic.

Homosexuality and cross-dressing was no bar to being put on the marriage market – as Archduke Ludwig Viktor, brother of Emperor Franz Joseph (ruled 1848–1916), discovered in the 1860s. However, his reputation preceded him, and he remained a bachelor all his life.

Yet despite their best efforts to secure the succession, the Habsburgs still took enormous risks. Once they’d produced a male heir, rulers often packed younger sons into the church, having them serve as bishops and thus dedicating themselves to celibacy. Should the eldest son die, then a male sibling might be whisked from the church and appointed heir apparent – it was via this ecclesiastical detour that Emperor Leopold I (ruled 1658–1705) came to the throne. The problem was that, by putting younger sons into the church, collateral lines that might have filled eventual gaps in the main line of descent were not created.

Habsburg marriage law was only properly regulated in 1839. Until then, it rested on the principle that members of the family should only take spouses that were ‘worthy’, which in practice meant a royal or princely descent. The challenge was finding wives that fitted the formula. With the spread of Protestantism in Europe, the number of suitable Catholic brides contracted. Bavarians were one possibility, except that the Catholic Wittelsbach dukes had the unfortunate habit of generating more boys than girls. The tradition thus arose of the two branches of the Habsburgs – the Spanish and central European – intermarrying and exchanging partners every generation.

The arrangement made good political sense, guaranteeing that the two lines would support each other militarily, which paid dividends in the Thirty Years’ War (the bloody religious conflict fought across central Europe from 1618–48). Biologically, however, it was a disaster. As first and second-cousin and uncle-niece marriages became the norm, madness and deformity followed. Even the tame artists at Habsburg courts could not hide the jutting lower jaws of Habsburg sovereigns, a condition that made it impossible for them to eat comfortably. As one British envoy remarked of the Spanish Habsburg king Charles II (ruled 1665–1700): “He has a ravenous stomach, and swallows all he eats whole, for his nether jaw stands so much out, that his two rows of teeth cannot meet.” By gorging his food unchewed, the ambassador explained, the king suffered from abdominal cramps and excessive vomiting.

As cousins married cousins and uncles married nieces, madness and deformity followed

All of these close intermarriages counted as incestuous and so needed papal approval, but this did not bless the unions with an abundance of heirs. In fact, the figures for infant mortality are shocking. Between 1527 and 1661, the Habsburg kings of Spain sired 34 legitimate children. Of these, 10 died before their first year and 17 before the age of 10, yielding a death rate significantly higher than the average for Spain at that time. The central European branch of the Habsburgs generally fared better. Even so, nine of Leopold I’s 16 children (by three wives) did not survive infancy. Most of these premature deaths were caused by inbreeding.

The majority of Habsburgs were capable of producing children, but even this facility was eventually lost. A post-mortem of Charles II of Spain performed in 1700 disclosed “a very small heart, lungs corroded, intestines putrefactive and gangrenous, three large stones in the kidney, a single testicle, black as coal, and his head full of water”. A modern review of the medical evidence concludes that “Charles suffered from posterior hypospadias, monorchism and an atrophic testicle. He probably had an intersexual state with ambiguous genitalia, and a congenital monokidney with stones and infections” – in other words, he had a single kidney and single testicle, and his urethra exited on the underside of an undeveloped penis.

It seems altogether improbable that the poor king could perform the sexual act. Even after 10 years of marriage, Charles’s first wife, with whom he shared a pathetic intimacy, was unable to say whether or not she was a virgin. Habitually unwashed and unkempt, the poor king drifted into insanity, gruesomely inspecting the corpses of his ancestors in the vaults of Spain’s Escorial Palace.

Looming extinction

The death of the heirless Charles II was followed by a war of succession across Europe. Although the central European branch of the Habsburgs hoped to capture the dead king’s inheritance, its rulers failed to keep hold of Spain, which passed to the French Bourbons. Almost immediately, the same fate of extinction as had befallen the Spanish Habsburg line threatened the central European.

The Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI (reigned 1711–40) was the last surviving Habsburg male. His elder brother had died prematurely, and an uncle, who might have provided a substitute line, had been a bishop and so was childless. Despite the precautions Charles had taken at the time of his marriage, it was eight years before he and Lily White produced a son, and he died after just seven months. Thereafter, she only bore girls, starting with Maria Theresa in 1717.

The Habsburg possessions in central Europe had no uniform scheme of succession. Some permitted female inheritance, but others not. So Charles hatched a plan to ensure the survival of the dynasty: he changed the law of succession to allow universal female succession, first appointing his nieces as his successors and then, following Maria Theresa’s birth, his daughter as his main heir. The new scheme – known as the Pragmatic Sanction – was first announced in 1713 and over the next 10 years Charles persuaded the parliaments or diets of his central European dominions to accept it. In a further bid to future-proof his daughter’s rights, Charles also secured the endorsement of the major European powers.

All this mattered not a jot. When Charles died in 1740, Frederick the Great of Prussia invaded Silesia (now mostly in Poland), disputing Maria Theresa’s right to it (as part of the War of the Austrian Succession), while the electors of Bavaria and Saxony, supported by Louis XV of France, marched into Bohemia. Charles of Bavaria was crowned king of Bohemia in 1741 and elected Holy Roman Emperor the next year.

Frederick the Great declared that Maria Theresa was ‘the only man among my opponents’

Although Maria Theresa had to relinquish all but a strip of Silesia, she saw off her adversaries, depriving Charles of Bavaria first of Bohemia, then of the Bohemian crown, and twice of his capital Munich. Even her adversary Frederick the Great celebrated her as “the only man among my opponents”, while in England pub signs were repainted in her honour. As one English wag later recalled of Maria Theresa, “the queen of Hungary’s head was to be seen in almost every street, and we fought and drank under her banner at our own expense during the whole war”.

Prophets and popes

Charles of Bavaria died in 1745. The office of Holy Roman Emperor was technically elective but had until 1740 been effectively hereditary in the Habsburg family. As a woman, Maria Theresa was ineligible to be sovereign of the Holy Roman Empire, for the Pragmatic Sanction did not apply to the empire but only to the Habsburg family dominions. In her place, the nine electoral princes chose as Charles’s successor Maria Theresa’s husband, Francis Stephen of Lorraine. Maria Theresa thus became empress, but only through her husband.

The Habsburgs had over centuries built a grand mythology about themselves, heaping on legends and stories that spoke to the family’s destiny as great rulers. Double-headed eagles, acrostics and ancient prophecies added lustre to the image of power foretold, along with an alleged biological connection to Old Testament prophets, Greek and Egyptian deities, 100 popes and almost 200 saints and martyrs.

But it was in the 1740s that the Habsburgs pulled off one of their greatest coups. The Habsburg male line had ended. What had taken its place was the House of Lorraine. Future heirs should have been known as Lorrainers and not as Habsburgs, in the same way as Queen Victoria of Great Britain produced (by virtue of her marriage to Prince Albert) Saxe-Coburg and Gotha heirs, and not Hanoverians.

But Maria Theresa had her way, prevailing over her husband, who customarily deferred to her. Instead of her descendants belonging to the House of Lorraine, they would, at Maria Theresa’s insistence, be considered members of the House of Austria-Lorraine or (as it was later known) Habsburg-Lorraine.

The Habsburg line had perished with the death of Charles VI but, with a sleight of title, Maria Theresa gave it a second life that would carry the Habsburgs into the 20th century. Ironically, it was a family tragedy that brought about the Habsburgs’ downfall – the assassination in 1914 of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, nephew and heir of the Emperor Franz Joseph. It plunged the Habsburgs into a war they could not win. Until then, the Habsburgs were central Europe’s great survivors – and that included their name.

Far-right politics in the United Kingdom Posted November 18th 2020

Sir Oswald Moseley’s Fascist Brown Shirts, Burgoyne Rd c 1933, Portsmouth, from ‘Portsmouth Voices’ by Robert Cook

Far-right politics in the United Kingdom have existed since at least the 1930s, with the formation of Nazi, fascist and anti-semitic movements. It went on to acquire more explicitly racial connotations, being dominated in the 1960s and 1970s by self-proclaimed white nationalist organisations that opposed non-white and Asian immigration, such as the National Front (NF), the British Movement (BM) and British National Party (BNP), or the British Union of Fascists (BUF). Since the 1980s, the term has mainly been used to describe those groups, such as the English Defence League, who express the wish to preserve what they perceive to be British culture, and those who campaign against the presence of non-indigenous ethnic minorities and what they perceive to be an excessive number of asylum seekers.

The NF and the BNP have been strongly opposed to non-white immigration. They have encouraged the repatriation of ethnic minorities: the NF favours compulsory repatriation, while the BNP favours voluntary repatriation. The BNP have had a number of local councillors in some inner-city areas of East London, and towns in Yorkshire and Lancashire, such as Burnley and Keighley. East London has been the bedrock of far-right support in the UK since the 1930s, whereas BNP success in the north of England is a newer phenomenon. The only other part of the country to provide any significant level of support for such views is the West Midlands.

First Victory Posted November 15th 2020

Ten years ago, historians hailed the discovery of HMS Victory, found on the seabed 50 miles (80km) southeast of Plymouth. Its sinking in 1744, which claimed the lives of 1,100 sailors, is considered the worst single British naval disaster in the English Channel. Why have efforts to raise the ship become the focus of a legal battle?

“It was the wreck that every wreck-finder wanted to find,” says diver Richard Keen, who began searching in 1973 for Victory, the predecessor of Admiral Lord Nelson’s more famous namesake ship.

The professional diver, from Guernsey, grouped together with five others to scour the seabed for two months near Les Casquets, a group of islands eight miles (13km) west of Alderney, the northernmost Channel Island.

The group did manage to locate the wreck of passenger steamer Stella, which sank in 1899 claiming 105 lives, but HMS Victory remained elusive.

HMS Victory Ship: Artwork of HMS Victory, a first-rate Royal Navy warship wrecked in the English Channel, 1744. (Artwork by John Batchelor.)
image captionArtist John Batchelor’s depiction of HMS Victory

The 100-gun ship was launched in 1737, and seven years later it was the flagship of Admiral Sir John Balchen as he successfully led a force to relieve a British convoy trapped by a French blockade of the River Tagus, in Portugal.

But on the return journey, Victory was separated from the fleet and sank with all hands on 5 October 1744.

Its exact location in the English Channel would remain a mystery for more than 250 years.

Search efforts initially focused on the infamous Casquets – where the ship was thought to have been wrecked due to poor navigation.

But in 2009, Florida-based Odyssey Marine Exploration announced it had discovered Victory, 62 miles (100km) away from those rocks, suggesting a fierce storm rather than a navigational error had been behind the sinking.

As with the Mary Rose, the Tudor warship which was raised in 1982, there was great public interest in the find.

Built during a period of British naval ascendancy, Victory and its more famous successor were two of the most expensive and grandest ships of the period.

Diana Davis, senior conservator at The National Museum of the Royal Navy with one of Victory's cannon
image captionThe National Museum of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth welcomed two of Victory’s guns in September

“It was a time when the Royal Navy’s power was absolutely central to British power, the growth of its maritime empire, and its prosperity,” says Matthew Sheldon, executive director of heritage at the National Museum of the Royal Navy.

“It would be hard to overstate how important they [both ships] are, I think.”

The wreck of the Mary Rose would go on to yield 19,000 artefacts of great historical significance but of no private commercial value, because of laws governing sovereign naval property.

But bringing Victory’s treasures to the surface would be a costly exercise – one companies like Odyssey would usually fund through the sale of artefacts.

Portrait of Admiral Sir John Balchen
image captionAdmiral Sir John Balchen was aboard HMS Victory during the ship’s final tragic voyage in October 1744.

Despite the majority of the wreck lying some 75m below the surface, two of Victory’s bronze guns, a giant 42-pounder and a 12-pounder, have been brought up from the deep with the permission of the government.

The discovery of the larger gun – only carried on a first-rate vessel of Victory’s size during the first half of the 18th Century – enabled archaeologists to identify the wreck.

As the only first-rate warship with an intact collection of bronze cannon, Victory’s guns provide a unique snapshot: soon after such weapons would be made of iron, and naval tactics would shift.

In addition to the cannon, rigging, glass bottle fragments and remains of the hull and anchors also form part of the wreck.

A massive gold hoard rumoured to be aboard Victory has, however, not been found and its presence on the ship in the first place has been disputed by historians.

There is still more to be learned from the ship, Mr Sheldon says, but the question remains – should that be done through surveying the site underwater, or should Victory rise again?

A bronze gun on the Victory wreck
image captionThis Victory cannon has a thick layer of sand and shell concretion on it

HMS Victory: A timeline

  • 1726 – Construction of Victory begins in Portsmouth
  • 1737 – Victory is launched, later becoming the flagship of the Channel Fleet under Sir John Norris
  • 1740 – War of the Austrian Succession breaks out, with Britain siding with Austria’s Habsburg alliance against a number of countries, including France and Prussia
  • 1744 – Victory relieves a British convoy, trapped by a French blockade in Portugal – on its return, the ship becomes separated from the fleet and sinks on 5 October
  • 1765 – HMS Victory, Lord Nelson’s flagship and successor to the vessel, is floated out of dock at Chatham
  • 1805 – Victory fights at the Battle of Trafalgar, which ends Napoleon’s plans to invade Britain but also sees the death of Nelson
  • 2009 – Odyssey announces it has found Victory, later suggesting it sank due to a violent storm coupled with the ship’s top-heavy design, gun-crowded upper decks and possibly rotten timbers

One man who is convinced Victory’s artefacts are best taken out of “harm’s way” is Dr Sean Kingsley, a marine archaeologist for the Maritime Heritage Foundation (MHF), which was gifted the wreck site in 2012.

He would like to see artefacts brought up and displayed in a UK museum.

“The government believes this unique wreck can be managed untouched, 80km offshore, in one of the world’s busiest sea lanes.

“An irreplaceable piece of British history ends up abandoned, out of sight and mind, with the government’s stamp of approval.”

Not only that, the site is at risk of damage from fishing trawlers, erosion and illegal salvage, something noted by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) in 2014, he explains.

While the extent of threat to the wreck from fishing and looting is disputed, Dr Kingsley is concerned a 2018 decision to put the foundation’s initial 2014 “research and rescue” application on hold will mean the site could be further threatened.

Odyssey’s 251’ archaeological platform RV Odyssey Explorer
image captionOdyssey’s Explorer vessel

While there is a consensus on the historical importance of the wreck, not everyone in the archaeological world agrees with the Maritime Heritage Foundation’s plans for the site.

“This is basically a grave – this is the last resting place of 1,100 British sailors and it should not be disturbed lightly,” says Robert Yorke, chairman of the Joint Nautical Archaeology Policy Committee.

“You don’t go into a local churchyard and start digging them up hoping you’re going to find some gold underneath the bodies.”

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Mr Yorke has been a long-term opponent of the foundation’s plan to excavate the wreck site, saying the project lacks adequate funding, facilities and a museum willing to house artefacts.

He also says the foundation’s contractors Odyssey Marine are motivated by profit. This is a claim the foundation rejects, pointing out that selling artefacts to fund the project would be illegal.

Encountering human remains is “a daily part of archaeology”, the foundation says, and can be dealt with sensitively. When a skull was found on the Victory wreck, work immediately stopped and the MoD was informed, it says.

Odyssey's eight-ton Remotely Operated Vehicle ZEUS is launched from Odyssey's 251' archaeological platform the Odyssey Explorer.
image captionOdyssey Marine specialises in deep-ocean exploration and claims to have discovered hundreds of shipwrecks

Despite Victory’s unique history and concerns over fishing, looting and erosion, in September the wreck site was declared “environmentally stable” and ordered to be “left in situ”, according to the MoD and the Department for Digital, Culture Media & Sport.

In addition, Unesco rules do not allow for items to be removed from the wreck, the government departments said in a document lodged with the foundation’s licence application.

This decade-long saga faces a further twist though, as the foundation has now been granted permission to launch a judicial review of the government’s decision not to allow preliminary archaeological work on the wreck.

The launch of legal proceedings at the Royal Courts of Justice on 6 February has been acknowledged by the MoD, which said it was inappropriate to comment further on the case as it was “subject to ongoing litigation”.

For Dr Kingsley the current impasse means “nobody wins”.

“After 10 years of lengthy dialogue between the MHF, Odyssey and government, a most likely outcome is a no-deal farce,” he says.

“The foundation is convinced the Victory’s artefacts are best taken out of harm’s way for display in a major UK museum for all to enjoy and learn from.”

Constructing, Equipping and Armouring HMS Victory Posted November 15th 2020

decks HMS victory


In December 1758, Pitt the Elder, in his role as head of the British government, placed an order for the building of 12 ships, including a first-rate ship that would become HMS Victory. During the 18th century, Victory was one of ten first-rate ships to be constructed. The outline plans were based on HMS Royal George which had been launched at Woolwich Dockyard in 1756, and the naval architect chosen to design the ship was Sir Thomas Slade who, at the time, was the Surveyor of the Navy. She was designed to carry at least 100 guns. The commissioner of Chatham Dockyard was instructed to prepare a dry dock for the construction.

The keel was laid on 23 July 1759 in the Old Single Dock (since renamed No. 2 Dock and now Victory Dock), and a name, Victory, was chosen in October 1760. In 1759, the Seven Years’ War was going well for Britain; land victories had been won at Quebec and Minden and naval battles had been won at Lagos and Quiberon Bay. It was the Annus Mirabilis, or Year of Miracles (or Wonders), and the ship’s name may have been chosen to commemorate the victories or it may have been chosen simply because out of the seven names shortlisted, Victory was the only one not in use. There were some doubts whether this was a suitable name since the previous first-rate Victory had been lost with all on board in 1744.

A team of 150 workmen were assigned to the construction of Victory‘s frame. Around 6,000 trees were used in her construction, of which 90% were oak and the remainder elm, pine and fir, together with a small quantity of lignum vitae. The wood of the hull was held in place by six-foot copper bolts, supported by treenails for the smaller fittings. Once the ship’s frame had been built, it was normal to cover it up and leave it for several months to allow the wood to dry out or “season”. The end of the Seven Years’ War meant that Victory remained in this condition for nearly three years, which helped her subsequent longevity. Work restarted in autumn 1763 and she was floated on 7 May 1765, having cost £63,176 and 3 shillings, the equivalent of £7.92 million today.

On the day of the launch, shipwright Hartly Larkin, designated “foreman afloat” for the event, suddenly realised that the ship might not fit through the dock gates. Measurements at first light confirmed his fears: the gates were at least ​9 1⁄2 inches too narrow. He told the dreadful news to his superior, master shipwright John Allin, who considered abandoning the launch. Larkin asked for the assistance of every available shipwright, and they hewed away enough wood from the gates with their adzes for the ship to pass safely through. However the launch itself revealed significant challenges in the ship’s design, including a distinct list to starboard and a tendency to sit heavily in the water such that her lower deck gun ports were only 4 ft 6 in (1.4 m) above the waterline. The first of these problems was rectified after launch by increasing the ship’s ballast to settle her upright on the keel. The second problem, regarding the siting of the lower gun ports, could not be addressed. Instead it was noted in Victory‘s sailing instructions that these gun ports would have to remain closed and unusable in rough weather. This had potential to limit Victory‘s firepower, though in practice none of her subsequent actions would be fought in rough seas.

Because there was no immediate use for her, she was placed in ordinary and moored in the River Medway. Internal fitting out continued in a somewhat desultory manner over the next four years, and sea trials were completed in 1769, after which she was returned to her Medway berth. She remained there until France joined the American War of Independence in 1778. Victory was now placed in active service as part of a general mobilisation against the French threat. This included arming her with a full complement of smooth bore, cast iron cannon. Her weaponry was intended to be thirty 42-pounders (19 kg) on her lower deck, twenty-eight 24-pounder long guns (11 kg) on her middle deck, and thirty 12-pounders (5 kg) on her upper deck, together with twelve 6-pounders on her quarterdeck and forecastle. In May 1778, the 42-pounders were replaced by 32-pounders (15 kg), but the 42-pounders were reinstated in April 1779; however there were insufficient 42-pounders available and these were replaced with 32-pounder cannons instead.

Boats Belonging to HMS Victory

The 6 boats that were carried aboard HMS Victory comprised of a Launch; Barge; Pinnace and 3 Cutters were an essential part of the ship’s equipment. These boats were used for many purposes including conveying stores, personnel, mooring and anchoring the ship. They were also employed as ‘tugs’ for towing when the loss of wind becalmed the ship.

The Launch was the largest of the boats on board being 34 feet (10.3m) long and as well as carrying men and stores, she was used for such tasks as the anchor work. It was therefore equipped with a windlass which assisted raising the anchors and a small wooden crane (davit) for retrieving the anchor buoy. The boat although usually rowed by 16 oarsmen seating 8 either side, could also be sailed using two masts and a cutter rig.

During wartime these ship’s boats were also often used to attack and seize ships from enemy harbours known as ‘cutting out’ the enemy ship. Troops were also frequently ferried to enemy shores by the boats and often used with prize crews to take surrender of a defeated ship. These ship’s boats were however not considered to be ‘lifeboats’ during the period when the Victory was operational. This because lowering a boat would take far too much time to be very helpful when trying to save someone who may unfortunately have fallen overboard.

During battle the boats were often towed astern of the ship to keep them out of the way. It happened also to reduce the potential collateral damage of additional splintered wood flying across the deck if the boats were hit by enemy cannon shot. As much removable wooden objects as possible was sent below, mess tables, benches, the officers’ furniture and sea chests. Clearing the decks for action was called to reduce one of these main dangers during naval engagements. A well drilled crew could clear a ship the size of the Victory in about ten minutes. 

Anchor hms victory


Due to the complex design and construction of a first-rate warship like the Victory, today it would be a massive industrial undertaking to attempt to build a ship of this size entirely from timber, even with all the modern facilities and equipment. The original 18th century workforce were not only having to use rather basic equipment and tools but also had all the logistical problems of moving massive timbers from where they were felled to the dockyard. 

Timber for constructing a first rate warship like the Victory was placed in store to season for some 14 years before construction began. It is very probable that this long seasoning time greatly contributed to the ship’s eventual longevity, although it was not until the American War of Independence in 1776 when HMS Victory was finally completed and fitted out. In 1778 the Victory was eventually commissioned, however this further extended period of weathering meant that the hull timbers were particularly well seasoned, although ships during this period were just often built to fight the war that was on at the particular moment. The ships were not expected to last for centuries.

The normal list of supplies required to build a ship of the line would consist of almost a hundred acres of oak forest, well over 5000 carefully selected mature oak trees which were mostly obtained from the weald forest of Kent and Sussex. The remainder of the timber required was elm, pine and fir which once stored would have been left seasoning for several years. Many of these massive oak timbers particular for the outboard planks were bent to the correct shape by being placed over a pit with fire underneath. Water was then poured over the timber and heavy weights placed along the sections of the timber until it reached the correct curvature. The thickness of the hull at the waterline on the Victory is approximately 2 feet (0.6m) thick.

Certain sections of a ship framework this size had to be made from a single piece of oak. Therefore oak trees with massive dimensions were very much sort after. The oak tree required for the 30 feet high ‘stern post’ which took some of the greatest stresses of the ship were just one such tree, as stern posts made from joined up timbers would soon fail. Other prized oak trees were those with ‘compass timbers’ which had grown over the years with stout curved branches which enabled the knees and clamps to also be made from one piece. One of the most difficult of these trees to find was the timber to be used for the wing transom; this had to be made from an uncommonly widely forked stem mature oak tree. 

Seven large elm trunks were used for the keel and around 3000 feet of fir and spruce were required for the decks, masts & yard arms as this type of timber was light and very supple. The bottom sections (lower masts) were made from 5 to 7 trees which were bound together with iron hoops. The masts used 27 miles of rigging and carried four acres of canvas for the sails and 2 tons of iron and copper nails and bolts. These bolts, which were passed right through the carefully shaped beams and sophisticated joints, had the ends clenched over washers. All this basically held the whole ship together.

Below the water line the ships oak hull was covered with 3923 pieces of 4ft by 1ft copper sheeting weighing 17 tons. This sheeting was added in 1780 as a protection against the teredo worm. Because of all the time, expense and difficulties involved with trying to build a ship the size of the Victory, it made more sense to try and take the enemies ships with boarding parties and keep them as prizes, rather than sinking them.

Despite her size HMS Victory was very efficient. Although first-rate warships like her were made entirely from wood they rarely burned and even if they were holed they were virtually unsinkable as wood being naturally very buoyant. These ships carried amongst their crew carpenters, ship wrights and sail makers and could therefore be repaired at sea by their own crew. The wind gave them unlimited propulsion and therefore essentially an unlimited range. The Victory’s size also made her essentially a good load carrier of food, ammunition and water, which enabled them to stay at sea for many months at a time. 


The Victory carried 7 anchors of various sizes for different uses. The ‘Best Bower’ anchor served as one of the two main anchors used for holding the ship in deep water. Being the heaviest and strongest, it was always rigged on the starboard (right hand) side of the ship because of the prevailing winds often found within the northern hemisphere.  Weight 4 tons. 9 cwt. 1 qtr. 14 lbs. (4.54 tonnes).

It was a major undertaking raising the anchor on board HMS Victory and as there was no mechanical means of doing so this had to be done manually. At the centre of the ship were two capstans which were connected together vertically. Each capstan could take 12 capstan bars and each bar had space for six men, so a total of 144 men would walk around the capstan pushing against the bars to raise the anchor.  

Gun HMS Victory

Mast, Sails and Rigging 

The Victory having 3 masts and a bow sprit is known as a ‘ship rigged’ vessel. Each of these masts supports yards (horizontal spars) which are named after their respective masts, the lower yard, topsail yard and the topgallant yards. These masts and yards were made from either fir or pine as this timber is very supple and light in weight. As the masts were so large, it took up to 7 trees to make each mast, all of which were shaped and fitted together with iron hoops and then bound tightly with ropes.

Over 26 miles (42 km) of flax and hemp rope was required to rig the Victory, with the largest rope being 19 inches (47 cm) in circumference. A set of canvas sails for the Victory comprised of 37 sails which providing a total sail area of 6,500 square yards (5, 428 square metres) around four acres of sails An additional 23 sails were carried on board as spares. 

When in full sail HMS Victory carried thirty seven different sails. These canvas sails were mostly hung from horizontal ‘ yards’ mounted on the her four masts, the bowsprit, the foremast, the mainmast  and the mizenmast, various combinations of these sails were used according to the strength and direction of the wind.  HMS Victory’s excellent design, speed (around 8 knots – 10 mph ) and the ships manoeuvrability despite her size meant she was in constant demand during her main period of active service between 1778 and 1805 and became the most successful First Rate warship ever built.

The largest single artefact that still remains from the Battle of Trafalgar is HMS Victory’s Fore Topsail, which measures 54 feet high by 54 feet wide at the top and 80 feet wide at its base. This sail covers an area of around 3,620 square feet and weighs around 370 kilograms. The sail was initially made in the Sail Loft at Chatham when HMS Victory was completing her repair in 1803. It was made by Dundee weavers who used to manufacture the bolts of cloth for the Navy during this period and would have spent around 1,200 hours to stitch the top sail together. They remained on board the ship until it was returned to the sail loft after the battle in 1806 for repairs. 

This surviving topsail is pot marked by over 80 holes and tears in the canvas sustained both in the battle and afterwards by 19th century souvenir hunters. The sail was again removed from the ship during 1934/35 and was later discovered in the gymnasium of the Royal Naval Barracks in Portsmouth. In 1967 it was returned to the ship and displayed in the Larboard Cable Tier on the Orlop Deck. This unique and historic Topsail, which is the only sail in existence from the battle in 1805, was exhibited in No 4 Boathouse in the Royal Naval Dockyard during the International Festival of the Sea in 1998, before being removed for further restoration. This was the first time the sail has been hoisted since the Battle of Trafalgar. HMS Victory’s fore top sail is a unique artefact from the battle and the period. The fact it remains intact today is a testament to the skill of the Georgian sail makers who manufactured the sail over two centuries ago. To preserve the sail for the future it is now being stored in environmentally controlled conditions in Store 10, in the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard.


The Middle Deck had twenty eight – 24 pounders ; the Lower Deck thirty – 32 pounders ; the Upper Deck thirty, 12 pounders; the Quarter Deck twelve -12 pounders ; the Forecastle had two – 68 pounders ( Carronades ) and two – 12 pounders  ( Bow- chasers).    

All the guns on the Victory were smooth bore muzzle loaders which fired a single shot. That made them short ranged. Three main types of shot were used in the guns: ’round shot’, used to batter the hull of an enemy ship; ‘dismantling shot’, to tear down the masts and rigging; anti-personnel shot ”grape shot’, which was used to kill or maim members of the opposing crew.  A ‘broadside’ from the ships main armament came from 32 pounders which were often discharged from all the guns at one side of the ship. More usually the guns were fired one by one from bow to stern in a ripple effect and had a maximum range of one and a half miles. 

The shock of such a broadside caused such great a strain on all the ship’s timbers that the guns were very rarely fired all at once. A shot from a 32 pounder guns could penetrate 2 feet thick oak from around 1 mile away. Nelson perfected a way of skimming the gun shot off the water like one might do with a pebble, which added to the force of the shot into the hulls of the enemy ships, with devastating effect. The combined weight of the carriage and gun was three and three quarters tons. HMS Victory’s firepower alone was superior to all of Wellingtons cannons used at the Battle of Waterloo.

The wooden construction of these types of ships gave good protection against solid shot. The wood absorbed much of the shock, although ricochets and splintered pieces of wood were a major problem, especially if the ship was to suffer a direct hit perhaps through one of the open gun hatches. The cannon shot would often cause devastating damage to both the interior of the ship and the opposing gun crew themselves. Guns could often be torn loose from their ropes and with the constant motion of the ship in open sea, a ‘loose cannon’ weighing over a ton moving back and forth on its own, would often compound horrific injuries to the crew.

When the enemy was sighted, the Royal Marine drummer would sound a special drum roll: ‘Beat to Quarters!’ which is the modern day ‘Action Stations!’ Immediately the crew would clear the decks for action and ‘man there guns’. Each cannon had its own crew which was typically twelve men and a boy, known as the ‘powder monkey’, who collected the gunpowder filled cartridges from the magazines deep down in the bowels of the ship, below the waterline and therefore safe from enemy shot. The Royal Naval gun crew would go through a complicated drill to prepare their guns for firing. They constantly practiced this drill, and by the time of Trafalgar, most British warships could fire a broadside every ninety seconds which was often twice as fast as their French and Spanish opponents. These fast and deadly hailstorms of concentrated fire gave the British an all-important advantage in any battle.

Although most great naval battles would often begin with great lines of opposing warships sailing past each other firing broadsides, these gunnery duels often reached no real conclusion. The battles frequently ended up with close-quarter hand-to-hand fighting between the crews of individual ships which often ended up tightly wedged alongside each other. In these often murderous contests boarding pikes, cutlasses and pistols were used; with covering musket fire from the Royal Marines who could be found firing with great accuracy, sometimes from high up in the rigging.

The Boy Who Became a World War II Veteran at 13 Years Old Posted November 15th 2020

In 1942, Seaman Calvin Graham was decorated for valor in battle. Then his mother learned where he’d been and revealed his secret to the Navy.

Smithsonian Magazine

  • Gilbert King

Just months after her christening in 1942, the USS South Dakota was attacked relentlessly in the Pacific. Photo from U.S. Navy / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain.

With powerful engines, extensive firepower and heavy armor, the newly christened battleship USS South Dakota steamed out of Philadelphia in August of 1942 spoiling for a fight. The crew was made up of “green boys”—new recruits who enlisted after the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor—who had no qualms about either their destination or the action they were likely to see. Brash and confident, the crew couldn’t get through the Panama Canal fast enough, and their captain, Thomas Gatch, made no secret of the grudge he bore against the Japanese. “No ship more eager to fight ever entered the Pacific,” one naval historian wrote.

In less than four months, the South Dakota would limp back to port in New York for repairs to extensive damage suffered in some of World War II’s most ferocious battles at sea. The ship would become one of the most decorated warships in U.S. Navy history and acquire a new moniker to reflect the secrets it carried. The Japanese, it turned out, were convinced the vessel had been destroyed at sea, and the Navy was only too happy to keep the mystery alive—stripping the South Dakota of identifying markings and avoiding any mention of it in communications and even sailors’ diaries. When newspapers later reported on the ship’s remarkable accomplishments in the Pacific Theater, they referred to it simply as “Battleship X.”

That the vessel was not resting at the bottom of the Pacific was just one of the secrets Battleship X carried through day after day of hellish war at sea. Aboard was a gunner from Texas who would soon become the nation’s youngest decorated war hero. Calvin Graham, the fresh-faced seaman who had set off for battle from the Philadelphia Navy Yard in the summer of 1942, was only 12 years old.

Graham was just 11 and in the sixth grade in Crockett, Texas, when he hatched his plan to lie about his age and join the Navy. One of seven children living at home with an abusive stepfather, he and an older brother moved into a cheap rooming house, and Calvin supported himself by selling newspapers and delivering telegrams on weekends and after school. Even though he moved out, his mother would occasionally visit—sometimes to simply sign his report cards at the end of a semester.  The country was at war, however, and being around newspapers afforded the boy the opportunity to keep up on events overseas. Calvin_Graham.jpg

Calvin Graham, the USS South Dakota‘s 12-year-old gunner, in 1942. Photo from U.S. Navy / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain.

“I didn’t like Hitler to start with,” Graham later told a reporter. When he learned that some of his cousins had died in battles, he knew what he wanted to do with his life. He wanted to fight. “In those days, you could join up at 16 with your parents’ consent, but they preferred 17,” Graham later said. But he had no intention of waiting five more years. He began to shave at age 11, hoping it would somehow make him look older when he met with military recruiters.  Then he lined up with some buddies (who forged his mother’s signature and stole a notary stamp from a local hotel) and waited to enlist.

At 5-foot-2 and just 125 pounds, Graham dressed in an older brother’s clothes and fedora and practiced “talking deep.” What worried him most was not that an enlistment officer would spot the forged signature. It was the dentist who would peer into the mouths of potential recruits. “I knew he’d know how young I was by my teeth,” Graham recalled. He lined up behind a couple of guys he knew who were already 14 or 15, and “when the dentist kept saying I was 12, I said I was 17.”  At last, Graham played his ace, telling the dentist that he knew for a fact that the boys in front of him weren’t 17 yet, and the dentist had let them through. “Finally,” Graham recalled, “he said he didn’t have time to mess with me and he let me go.” Graham maintained that the Navy knew he and the others on line that day were underage, “but we were losing the war then, so they took six of us.”

It wasn’t uncommon for boys to lie about their age in order to serve. Ray Jackson, who joined the Marines at 16 during World War II, founded the group Veterans of Underage Military Service in 1991, and it listed more than 1,200 active members, including 26 women.  “Some of these guys came from large families and there wasn’t enough food to go around, and this was a way out,” Jackson told a reporter. “Others just had family problems and wanted to get away.”

Calvin Graham told his mother he was going to visit relatives. Instead, he dropped out of the seventh grade and shipped off to San Diego for basic training.  There, he said, the drill instructors were aware of the underage recruits and often made them run extra miles and lug heavier packs.

By the time the USS South Dakota made it to the Pacific, it had become part of a task force alongside the legendary carrier USS Enterprise (the “Big E”). By early October 1942, the two ships, along with their escorting cruisers and destroyers, raced to the South Pacific to engage in the fierce fighting in the battle for Guadalcanal. After they reached the Santa Cruz Islands on October 26, the Japanese quickly set their sights on the carrier and launched an air attack that easily penetrated the Enterprise’s own air patrol. The carrier USS Hornet was repeatedly torpedoed and sank off Santa Cruz, but the South Dakota managed to protect Enterprise, destroying 26 enemy planes with a barrage from its antiaircraft guns.

Standing on the bridge, Captain Gatch watched as a 500-pound bomb struck the South Dakota’s main gun turret. The explosion injured 50 men, including the skipper, and killed one. The ship’s armor was so thick, many of the crew were unaware they’d been hit.  But word quickly spread that Gatch had been knocked unconscious. Quick-thinking quartermasters managed to save the captain’s life—his jugular vein had been severed, and the ligaments in his arms suffered permanent damage—but some onboard were aghast that he didn’t hit the deck when he saw the bomb coming. “I consider it beneath the dignity of a captain of an American battleship to flop for a Japanese bomb,” Gatch later said.

The ship’s young crew continued to fire at anything in the air, including American bombers that were low on fuel and trying to land on the Enterprise. The South Dakota was quickly getting a reputation for being wild-eyed and quick to shoot, and Navy pilots were warned not to fly anywhere near it. The South Dakota was fully repaired at Pearl Harbor, and Captain Gatch returned to his ship, wearing a sling and bandages. Seaman Graham quietly became a teenager, turning 13 on November 6, just as Japanese naval forces began shelling an American airfield on Guadalcanal Island. Steaming south with the Enterprise, Task Force 64, with the South Dakota and another battleship, the USS Washington, took four American destroyers on a night search for the enemy near Savo Island. There, on November 14, Japanese ships opened fire, sinking or heavily damaging the American destroyers in a four day engagement that became known as the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal.

Later that evening the South Dakota encountered eight Japanese destroyers; with deadly accurate 16-inch guns, the South Dakota set fire to three of them. “They never knew what sank ‘em,” Gatch would recall. One Japanese ship set its searchlights on the South Dakota, and the ship took 42 enemy hits, temporarily losing power. Graham was manning his gun when shrapnel tore through his jaw and mouth; another hit knocked him down, and he fell through three stories of superstructure. Still, the 13 year-old made it to his feet, dazed and bleeding, and helped pull other crew members to safety while others were thrown by the force of the explosions, their bodies aflame, into the Pacific.

“I took belts off the dead and made tourniquets for the living and gave them cigarettes and encouraged them all night,” Graham later said.  ”It was a long night. It aged me.” The shrapnel had knocked out his front teeth, and he had flash burns from the hot guns, but he was “fixed up with salve and a coupla stitches,” he recalled. “I didn’t do any complaining because half the ship was dead.  It was a while before they worked on my mouth.” In fact, the ship had casualties of 38 men killed and 60 wounded.

Regaining power, and after afflicting heavy damage to the Japanese ships, the South Dakota rapidly disappeared in the smoke. Captain Gatch would later remark of his “green” men, “Not one of the ship’s company flinched from his post or showed the least disaffection.” With the Japanese Imperial Navy under the impression that it had sunk the South Dakota, the legend of Battleship X was born. Battleship_X_USS_South_Dakota.jpg

After the Japanese Imperial Navy falsely believed it had sunk the South Dakota in November, 1942, the American vessel became known as “Battleship X.” Photo from Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain.

In mid-December, the damaged ship returned to the Brooklyn Navy Yard for major repairs, where Gatch and his crew were profiled for their heroic deeds in the Pacific. Calvin Graham received a Bronze Star for distinguishing himself in combat, as well as a Purple Heart for his injuries. But he couldn’t bask in glory with his fellow crewmen while their ship was being repaired. Graham’s mother, reportedly having recognized her son in newsreel footage, wrote the Navy, revealing the gunner’s true age.

Graham returned to Texas and was thrown in a brig at Corpus Christi, Texas, for almost three months.

Battleship X returned to the Pacific and continued to shoot Japanese planes out of the sky. Graham, meanwhile, managed to get a message out to his sister Pearl, who complained to the newspapers that the Navy was mistreating the “Baby Vet.” The Navy eventually ordered Graham’s release, but not before stripping him of his medals for lying about his age and revoking his disability benefits. He was simply tossed from jail with a suit and a few dollars in his pocket—and no honorable discharge.

Back in Houston, though, he was treated as a celebrity. Reporters were eager to write his story, and when the war film Bombadier premiered at a local theater, the film’s star, Pat O’Brien, invited Graham to the stage to be saluted by the audience. The attention quickly faded. At age 13, Graham tried to return to school, but he couldn’t keep pace with students his age and quickly dropped out. He married at age 14, became a father the following year, and found work as a welder in a Houston shipyard. Neither his job nor his marriage lasted long. At 17 years old and divorced, and with no service record, Graham was about to be drafted when he enlisted in the Marine Corps. He soon broke his back in a fall, for which he received a 20 percent service-connected disability. The only work he could find after that was selling magazine subscriptions.

When President Jimmy Carter was elected, in 1976, Graham began writing letters, hoping that Carter, “an old Navy man,” might be sympathetic. All Graham had wanted was an honorable discharge so he could get help with his medical and dental expenses. “I had already given up fighting” for the discharge, Graham said at the time. “But then they came along with this discharge program for deserters. I know they had their reasons for doing what they did, but I figure I damn sure deserved more than they did.”

In 1977, Texas Senators Lloyd Bentsen and John Tower introduced a bill to give Graham his discharge, and in 1978, Carter announced that it had been approved and that Graham’s medals would be restored, with the exception of the Purple Heart.  Ten years later, President Ronald Reagan signed legislation approving disability benefits for Graham.

At the age of 12, Calvin Graham broke the law to serve his country, at a time when the U.S. military might well be accused of having had a “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy with regard to underage enlistees. For fear of losing their benefits or their honorable discharges, many “Baby Vets” never came forward to claim the nation’s gratitude. It wasn’t until 1994, two years after he died, that the military relented and returned the seaman’s last medal—his Purple Heart—to his family.

Gilbert King is a contributing writer in history for Smithsonian.com. His book “Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America” won the Pulitzer Prize in 2013.

How the Neighborhoods of Manhattan Got Their Names

One of the most dense and culturally diverse places in the United States is the small island at the center of New York City. Here’s some history on the many neighborhoods, districts, and locations that make up Manhattan.

Mental Floss

  • Laura Turner Garrison

Read when you’ve got time to spare.GettyImages-1059195650.jpg

Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

For an island of only 24 square miles, Manhattan sure has a lot of neighborhoods. Many have distinct monikers that might not seem intuitive to the lay-tourist, or even to a lifelong New Yorker. Here’s where the names of New York’s most famous ‘hoods came from.

Hell’s Kitchen vs. Clinton

In recent decades, businesses and real estate agents have tried in vain to clean up the lively reputation of this west side neighborhood by renaming it “Clinton.” Gentrification and expansion from the neighboring theater district have certainly helped the beautification cause. Nonetheless, the area spanning 34th Street to 59th Street and 8th Avenue (or 9th, depending on who you ask) to the Hudson River just can’t shake the nickname “Hell’s Kitchen.”

At one time not so long ago, Hell’s Kitchen lived up to the nightmarish implications of its name—and then some—but the actual origins of the name have become something of folklore. One legend involves a seasoned cop and a green cop watching a riot take place in the heart of the neighborhood. The story goes that the young cop remarked, “This place is hell itself!” to which the older cop responded “Hell is a mild climate. This is hell’s kitchen.”

The second widely accepted origin comes from the name of a local gang, aptly called “The Hell’s Kitchen Gang.” It was the transgressions of this rough group upon which Herbert Asbury based his 1927 book Gangs of New York, which Martin Scorsese would later adapt into a film by the same name. Hell’s Kitchen was first mentioned in the New York Times on September 22, 1881; the paper used the term to refer to a tenement house on 39th between 9th and 10th.

The days of ethnic strife and poverty that once defined Hell’s Kitchen are long gone, but the name has stuck. Government and business officials drew the alternative name from DeWitt Clinton Park located on the outskirts of the neighborhood. Named for the 19th century New York governor, officials thought the local park and the name Clinton would evoke a sense of New York pride. But for now, residents and other New Yorkers alike proudly call this area Hell’s Kitchen.


For a neighborhood with such a rich artistic and cultural history, the origins of its name are rather muted. Harlem is a modification of the name Haarlem, a city in the Netherlands after which this former Dutch village was named. The neighborhood is huge, beginning at 110th Street between 5th and 8th Avenues, and from 125th Street up to 155th Street from 5th Avenue to the water, and eventually from the East River to the Hudson River.

Greenwich Village

The heart of bohemia in 1960s New York, this lower Manhattan neighborhood has the Dutch and the British to thank for its name. Greenwich comes for the Dutch word “Greenwijck” which means “Pine District.” When the Dutch ran New York (or New Amsterdam, as they called it), a Dutch man named Yellis Mandeville purchased property in the Village. He allegedly renamed the area after another village on Long Island by the same name. The first recorded appearance of this name change appeared in Yellis’ will at the turn of the 1700s; the name has since been Anglicized to Greenwich. “The Village,” as it’s often now called, extends from 14th Street to Houston Street and from Broadway west to the Hudson River.


A quarter century before the American Revolution, retired British Major Thomas Clarke bought 94 acres of land located between what is now 21st and 24th Streets, and from 8th Avenue to the water. He built a home on the property and named it “Chelsea,” after a veterans’ hospital and retirement home for elderly soldiers located in Britain. Chelsea Estate would pass through many more hands over the years, but the name Chelsea hung around long enough to become the official name of the neighborhood, which currently extends from 14th Street up to 30th Street, and from 6th Avenue to the water.

The Districts

Many districts make up the island of Manhattan, but the names of a few in particular have become part of the geographic vernacular.

The Flatiron District

A rather recent addition to the Manhattan neighborhood family, the Flatiron District has the triangular shaped Flatiron Building on 23rd Street to thank for its eponym. The structure, built in 1902, was one of the tallest at the time of its construction and its shape resembles a hot clothing iron. Though initially designated the Fuller Building, people kept referring to it as the Flatiron until eventually that just became the accepted name. The Flatiron District became a “named district” in the mid-1980’s when the neighborhood started to become more residential. Today, it is also nicknamed “Silicon Alley” due to the proliferation of tech start-ups in the vicinity, and ranges from E. 20th Street up to 26th Street, between Park Avenue South/Lexington Avenue and Sixth Avenue.

The Meatpacking District
Now bustling with hot clubs and expensive clothing retailers, the “Meatpacking District” name has a very literal beginning. In the late 1800s, New York decided to name two acres of lower Manhattan’s west side after General Peter Gansevoort. This area became a commercial district, known as Gansevoort Market. By 1900, the market would boast more than 250 slaughterhouses and meatpacking plants. In the later part of the century, the district—which stretches between 9th and 11th Avenues, from Gansevoort Street to 14th Street—became less of a commercial food market and more of a haven for sex clubs and other “special interest” nightlife. Eventually, all other industry gave way to exclusive nightlife and high-end apparel, but the name remains.

The Garment District
Only one square mile, this midtown west area located just below Times Square (from 34th to 40th Streets, between Sixth and Ninth Avenues) housed half of New York City’s garment plants in the early 20th century. In its heyday, the Garment District serviced all facets of the fashion industry, from design to manufacture to sale. Most of the manufacturing business has since faded away from the area, but its historical contributions live on through the name—and a giant needle and button sculpture on 7th Avenue.

In The Heights

Though the island is relatively flat, Upper Manhattan still has a few heights.

Morningside Heights

The Heights formerly known as Vandewater, from the name of Dutch settler Harmon Vandewater, became Morningside around the time Columbia University was expanding into the area (around 1896). A city surveyor appraising the surrounding land found one spot he deemed unsuitable for anything other than a city park. This particular park was situated on the east side of a hill, perfectly positioned for a nice wash of sunlight every morning. In 1870, the city named it “Morning Side Park,” and it is believed to have inspired this particular Heights’ new first name of Morningside. The neighborhood’s current boundaries are 110th to 125th, from 8th Avenue to the Hudson River.

Washington Heights
Located below Inwood, the uppermost part of Manhattan, and above Harlem and Morningside Heights, Washington Heights (155th Street to 181st Street, river to river) is named in honor of Fort Washington. Built on what was at the time the highest elevated part of Manhattan, this fortress allowed American Revolutionary forces to observe the British Redcoats from afar. The name started commonly appearing in association with the area in the late 19th century.

Hamilton Heights
Once an under-settled area of mansions and estates in what is now West Harlem/Upper Manhattan, Hamilton Heights—which stretches from 135th to 155th Streets between St. Nicholas Avenue and the Hudson River—derives its name from the Hamilton Grange, the country home of Federalist leader Alexander Hamilton. He had little time to enjoy the leisurely life on his vacation estate, as he was gunned down in the infamous duel with Aaron Burr only two years after the home was built.

The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Murray

The hill may be long gone, literally leveled by urbanization, but its namesake lives on below 34th Street, from Madison Avenue to the East River. In the 1760’s, Robert Murray was a Quaker merchant who purchased land in the area of Iclenberg, a large hill somewhere around modern day 36th and Park Ave. Though the Murrays may have called their homestead Iclenberg or, later, Belmont, locals referred to his family’s estate as Murray Hill. The voice of the people won, and we have them to thank for the neighborhood’s name, though we can hardly blame them for its modern reputation as a frat boy haven.

To Bay or Not To Bay

These areas along the East River aren’t technically bays, but that didn’t stop residents from using the word.

Turtle Bay
In 1639, the Dutch Governor bequeathed to a few Englishmen a piece of farmland, through which a creek flowed—well, trickled—into the East River bay. The men would call the property Turtle Bay Farm. Some historians believe “Turtle Bay” came from the healthy population of turtles living in the creek, but the Turtle Bay Association posits the name was actually adapted from the Dutch word “deutal,” meaning “bent blade,” because the bay resembles that shape. At some point in time, New Yorkers dropped the Farm part of the name and that area east of Midtown Manhattan—which stretches from E. 42nd Street to E. 53rd Street between Lexington Avenue and the East River—simply became “Turtle Bay.”

Kips Bay
Just a few blocks south of Turtle Bay, from E. 23rd Street to E. 38th Street and between Lexington Avenue and the East River, is Kips Bay. The neighborhood was named for Dutch settler Jacobus Hendrickson Kip, who bought property in the area during the 1600s.

Hip to Be Squares

Though technically not neighborhoods, the names of these rectangular city hubs have a few stories—and mysteries—of their own.

Times Square

When the New York Times moved its headquarters to then-named Long Acre Square in 1904, publisher/owner Adolph Ochs strongly encouraged Mayor George B. McClellan, Jr. to change the name to Times Square. McClellan agreed, and it was henceforth Times Square. Today, the tourist trap—and the ‘hood most dreaded by New Yorkers—stretches from W. 40th Street to W. 53rd Street between 6th and 8th Avenues.

Union Square

Originally named Union Place, this New York City hub marked the intersection, or “union,” of two major city thoroughfares—what are now 4th Avenue and Broadway at 14th Street. There has been some speculation that the Civil War might have influenced the naming, but historical evidence points to Union Square receiving its name many years before the war broke out.

Lincoln Square
Lincoln Square, which lies between W. 59th Street and W. 72nd Street and stretches from Central Park West to the Hudson River, remains one of the great name mysteries in Manhattan. City records from 1906 show a NYC Board of Aldermen decreeing this piece of property be called “Lincoln Square.” However, either no one took minutes at this meeting or they were lost somewhere in the annals of time, because there exists little evidence as to why they chose “Lincoln.” Historians have yet to uncover public records of a prominent New York landowner with the surname Lincoln. Perhaps it was an homage to President Abraham Lincoln, but there’s just as little evidence to support this theory.

Herald Square

This busy intersection on 34th Street and 6th Avenue was named after the New York Herald. The newspaper no longer exists, leaving this Square’s name as its lasting legacy to the city.

Madison Square

Not to be confused with home of the New York Rangers—Madison Square Garden—Madison Square refers to the park at 23rd Street and 5th Avenue and the square surrounding it, both of which attribute their name to the fourth President of the United States, James Madison.

Washington Square

Originally farmland, like most of Manhattan, this public park located at 5th Avenue and Waverly Place was named after President George Washington, who was inaugurated in New York City. Fun fact: It was once a cemetery. A 2005 archaeological assessment by the City Parks Department estimates some 20,000 bodies are buried beneath the park.

The Acronyms

Finally there are the original acronym neighborhoods, which popped up throughout lower Manhattan and have a reputation for hipness. They’re also pretty handy helpers for learning downtown geography:

Diaries of Confederate Soldiers Reveal the True Role of Enslaved Labor at Gettysburg

Even as some enslaved men escaped North, the retreat by the Army of Northern Virginia would have been disastrous without the support of its camp servants. Posted November 6th 2020

Smithsonian Magazine

  • Kevin M. Levin

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L. Prang & Co. print of the painting Hancock at Gettysburg by Thure de Thulstrup, showing Pickett’s Charge. Restoration of Library of Congress image by Adam Cuerden via Wikicommons.

Walking the Gettysburg battlefield today, it’s easy to imagine the Union and Confederate armies dueling for control of the Pennsylvania town and its surrounding picturesque fields and rocky hills for three days in July 1863. For many tourists, no visit to Gettysburg is complete without retracing the steps General Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia, those Confederates who crossed the open fields toward the Union line on Cemetery Ridge on July 3 in what is still popularly remembered as “Pickett’s Charge.” Once safe behind where the Union lines held strong, however, few turn around and acknowledge the hundreds of enslaved people who emerged from the woods to render assistance to the tattered remnants of the retreating men.

Enslaved workers constituted the backbone of the Confederate war effort. Although stories of these impressed workers and camp slaves have been erased from our popular memory of the war in favor of mythical accounts of black Confederate soldiers, their presence in the Confederate army constituted a visual reminder to every soldier —slaveowner and non-slaveowner alike—that their ultimate success in battle depended on the ownership of other human beings.

Anywhere between 6,000 and 10,000 enslaved people supported in various capacities Lee’s army in the summer of 1863. Many of them labored as cooks, butchers, blacksmiths and hospital attendants, and thousands of enslaved men accompanied Confederate officers as their camp slaves, or body servants. These men performed a wide range of roles for their owners, including cooking, cleaning, foraging and sending messages to families back home. Slave owners remained convinced that these men would remain fiercely loyal even in the face of opportunities to escape, but this conviction would be tested throughout the Gettysburg campaign.

On the first of the new year, Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation, which emancipated enslaved people in the states that seceded from the United States. The news quickly filtered through Confederate ranks and was certainly discussed among the army’s enslaved servants. The Proclamation, in effect, turned Union armies into armies of liberation, functioning as a funnel through which newly freed men could enlist in one of the black regiments that were filling up quickly throughout the North as well as in occupied parts of the Confederacy. Conversely, the Proclamation highlighted even further the degree to which the Confederate Army represented a force of enslavement. Lee’s decision to bring his army north into free states in early May, following his victory at Chancellorsville, was fraught with danger given the dramatic shift in Union policy; his soldiers’ rear guard, the support staff of enslaved labor, were at risk of emancipation.

When Lee’s three corps of infantry, numbering roughly 70,000, crossed the Mason-Dixon Line into Pennsylvania, they encountered clear signs that they were no longer in friendly territory. South Carolinians in Lieutenant General James Longstreet’s First Corps witnessed the women of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, appeal to their enslaved servants to run off and seize their freedom. If Confederate Major General William Dorsey Pender worried about his camp servant named Joe, he Pender did not share it in what would prove to be his final letter home to his wife. “Joe enters into the invasion with much gusto,” he noted, “and is quite active in looking up hidden property.”

“Hidden property” served as a reference to the escaped slaves already living in southern Pennsylvania; orders had been handed down throughout the Confederate army to capture and return this “property” to the South. Free African-Americans and fugitive slaves in Adams County (including Gettysburg) and surrounding counties fled with the news of Lee’s advance. While no known evidence exists that the army’s slaves assisted in kidnapping of roughly 100 men from towns such as Chambersburg, McConnellsburg, Mercersburg and Greencastle on the eve of the famous battle, it is very likely that those ensnared and led south would have passed camp servants and other slaves whose essential presence in the army helped to make their capture possible.

The battle that commenced west and north of Gettysburg on July 1, 1863, expanded gradually as the two armies shifted units along the roads leading to the small town. By the end of the first day, Confederates had achieved the upper hand as the Union army established a new defensive line south of the town, with Confederates taking up a position opposite along Seminary Ridge. Lee went on the offensive for the following two days but failed to crack the Union defenses.

Very few accounts exist today of black men marching with Confederates in the heat of battle at Gettysburg. (The previous summer’s campaign on the Virginia Peninsula, where the two armies were in close proximity to one another for an extended period of time, contains a wealth of such narratives.) These primary source accounts, in the form of letters and diaries, detail how camp slaves remained in the rear, prepared to perform various support roles. Historians can piece together what the battle was like by reviewing such documents, and gather an understanding of how soldiers up and down the chain of command viewed their world, including the role of enslaved labor in their lives.

As units readied for battle, a member of the 24th Georgia recalled, “The Colonels sent back their horses by their servants.” On the afternoon of July 1, Union captain Alfred Lee of the 82nd Ohio found himself wounded and behind enemy lines. A number of rebels passed by until a “young man of benevolent expression” attempted to locate a surgeon. Failing this he “directed some negroes to go and gather” items that “might improve our comfort.” Matt Butler, assistant surgeon of the 37th Virginia, had a horse shot out from under him and was wounded in the foot on July 2 as he tended to fallen Confederates. He managed to “limp” off the field with the help of a camp servant by the name of Jim. Just as the firing ceased late on July 2, Confederate artillerist Edward Porter Alexander was pleasantly surprised to see his servant Charley “on my spare horse Meg & with very affectionate greetings & a good haversack of rations.” Alexander recalled, “Negro servants hunting for their masters were a feature of the landscape that night.”

Lee’s failure to dislodge the Union army from its position led him to order one final assault on the afternoon of July 3, utilizing the men under the command of Generals George Pickett and James Johnston Pettigrew. As their shattered command fell back following their repulse, scores of camp slaves made their way out from the cover and protection of the woods in search of their owners and to assist the wounded. Removal of the wounded took on a renewed urgency through the late afternoon and evening of July 3, following another failed assault along the center of the Union line. The Army of Northern Virginia’s ability to safely cross the Potomac with the Union army in pursuit depended in large part on camp slaves, who cared for their wounded owners, and the great numbers of enslaved workers assigned to ordnance trains, wagons and ambulances, all of which extended for miles.

Once again, the historical record tells us their stories. For one major from South Carolina, his war ended along the difficult retreat route from Gettysburg, forcing his servant to take steps to properly bury the body. As retold by the family of the fallen officer after the war, the servant eventually made his way home and remembered enough information about the burial site to escort family members there to disinter the body for transport home shortly after the war. Captain William McLeod of the 38th Georgia, meanwhile, died before the retreat, but an enslaved worker named Moses took steps to bury McLeod on a farm nearby. Moses then followed a Confederate brigade back to Winchester, Virginia, before heading home with his owner’s personal effects to Swainsboro, Georgia. In 1865, Moses made the long journey back to Gettysburg with McLeod’s brother-in-law to bring the body home.

Camp slaves like Moses who, for whatever reason, were committed to their owners made do with the limited resources available and resigned themselves in the end to passing on their owners’ parting words to their grieving families. These men chose not to escape, and while there can be little doubt that these stories convey evidence of strong bonds between owner and slave, the tendency of Lost Causers to frame them around the narrow motif of unwavering loyalty fails to capture other factors that may have influenced their behavior. Some likely anticipated the brutal punishment that accompanied their recapture (or punishment that might be meted out to family members in their absence), while others worried about how they might be treated once behind Union lines. Some eagerly awaited reunion with their own families.

Lieutenant Sidney Carter’s wounding at Gettysburg cut his life short, but before his death he requested that his camp slave, Dave, “take everything he had and bring it home,” where each item would be offered as a parting gift to his family members. More important than the transportation of personal possessions, however, Dave also conveyed the final thoughts of his master to loved ones. Carter wanted it known that “he was willing to die” and that he “talked to the clergyman about dying . . . tho so weak he could hardly be understood.” He assured his family that they would meet again in heaven. Absent the body, news that a soldier had been comforted in his final hours and had prepared himself for death reassured family members that their loved one experienced what 19th-century Americans understood as a “Good Death.”

The loss of Colonel Henry King Burgwyn Jr., killed on the first day of fighting at Gettysburg, was a devastating loss not only to the 26th North Carolina but also, as described by a fellow officer in the regiment, to his servant Kincien, who “takes it bitterly enough.” Once Burgwyn’s body was given an appropriate burial, Kincien proposed transporting the young colonel’s personal items home along with information about his death that he knew his family craved. The regiment’s quartermaster reassured the family that the colonel’s items, including spyglasses, watch, toothbrush, and various memoranda books plus $59, were all safe under Kincien’s care. “I never saw fidelity stronger in any one,” noted the quartermaster in a letter. Four years later Burgwyn’s body was reinterred in Oakwood Cemetery in Raleigh, North Carolina.

In the immediate aftermath of the battle and continuing throughout the Confederate army’s retreat to Virginia, other camp slaves and enslaved men, however, abandoned their posts. A quartermaster in John Bell Hood’s division observed that “a great many Negroes have gone to the Yankees.” Union cavalry raids, such as the one led by Judson Kilpatrick at Monterey Pass on July 5, hampered the retreat of tired Confederates and resulted in additional prisoners being taken, including the camp servants attached to the Richmond Howitzers as well as Major William H. Chamberlain’s servant, horse, and personal equipment. Some of these men were briefly held as prisoners in Union prison camps. Once released, they joined Union regiments or found their way to towns and cities across the North looking for work.

For many Confederate officers who were separated from their servants as a result of the battle or the confusion of the retreat, disappointment awaited them, as it did Captain Waddell of the 12th Virginia, who rejoined his unit on July 8 only to learn that his servant Willis had run off with his personal baggage. These heroic stories of abandonment were quickly supplanted by the extraordinary steps of fealty taken by enslaved men like Moses, Dave or Kincien and became the centerpiece of the Lost Cause movement, which stressed unwavering and unquestioning obedience of slaves to their masters.

Ancient Man and His First Civilizations Posted October 30th 2020


So now in Persia, a new Persian dynasty, the “Sassanians” have ascended. Thus begins a series of great wars against the Romans, because these two great empires were of equal strength, it was not possible for either side to gain decisive victory. So for year after year, the battles raged, and the two sides became weaker and weaker.

The Coptic Period

The “Coptic period” is an informal designation for Late Antiquity in Egypt, an era defined by the religious shifts in Egyptian culture to Coptic Christianity from paganism until the Muslim conquest of Egypt. It began in about the 3rd century, and depending on sources and usage, lasted until either around the noticeable decline of Christianity in Egypt, in the 9th century, or to the arrival of Islam in the 7th century. Although the term is widely utilized in popular discourse, its use in academia is generally avoided due to its imprecise nature, whereas “Late Antiquity” or “Byzantine Egypt” can be defined on chronological grounds. A remarkable number of Coptic textiles survive today, due to the Coptic custom of burying them with the dead, and to the aridity of Egyptian graves. The textiles are commonly linen or wool and use the colors red, blue, yellow, green, purple, black and brown.

The Arab/Eurasian Invasion

After for so long battling each other, the Persians and the Romans had little hope of defeating the Arab forces that came sweeping in from the south. The exact nature of these “Early” Arab forces is not well understood: for certainly it seems unlikely that sparsely populated Arabia, could on it’s own, field an army large enough to defeat the combined forces of the Sassanian and Roman Empires: even less so, because the desert Bedouins had rejected Islam, and would not be conquered for some time to come. Later occurrences of course, make it obvious that Turks and Greeks were the dominant elements. These non-Arab troops would later be given the status and rights of Arabs. The painting below probably accurately depicts what the early Muslim armies looked like.

In 627 A.D, the Prophet Mohammed, the founder of Islam, caused letters to be written to several rulers, including letters to the governor of Alexandria and the Viceroy of Egypt. {No guarantee on the accuracy of this letter}.

In the Name of Allâh, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful.

From Muhammad slave of Allâh and His Messenger to Muqawqas, vicegerent of Egypt.

Peace be upon him who follows true guidance. Thereafter, I invite you to accept Islam. Therefore, if you want security, accept Islam. If you accept Islam, Allâh, the Sublime, shall reward you doubly. But if you refuse to do so, you will bear the burden of the transgression of all the Copts.

There is controversy as to exactly who the Copt’s are, though certainly NOT native Egyptian, they may perhaps be a combination of Greek and Levant Christians from the time of the Ptolemy’s.

Native Egyptians, who had not governed themselves for almost 1,200 years, had no say in the matter. They were totally at the mercy of officials, bureaucrats and an elite class, that was of foreign blood. Who of course, had their own interest to think about, their home was now Egypt. The Egypt of the Pharaoh’s was a long lost memory, save for the statues and monuments that they left behind. The Egypt they knew was the Egypt of their own making, and they had no desire to be uprooted.

Then as now, the portion of Egypt’s population that is native Egyptian is a mystery. Though we know that there were massive influxes of Greeks, Romans, Turks and others, there is no data available as to what percentage of the population they comprised. One line of thought is that native Egyptians were forced south into what is now Sudan, {then Nubia}. This theory has to be given credence if for no other reason, than simply because it explains Egypt’s acceptance of foreign rule for so long, cross-breeding of course, being another element. Logically it seems safe to assume, that if there had still been a sizable Egyptian element to the population, they would have had long ago reestablished their own governance, 1,200 years is a very long time.

Accordingly, in about 639-640 A.D, after much maneuvering and many intrigues, a treaty was signed by Roman representatives and Arab representatives, which called for the total withdrawal of Roman soldiers, it also stipulated certain monies to be paid to the Arabs. After occupying Egypt, Arabs forces later spread out over Northern Africa, the Middle-East, Eastern Europe and Western Asia.

The following post “Arab invasion history”, though speaking of Egypt, may be considered typical of North Africa and the middle East.

The Prophet Muhammad, had made Medina his capital, and it was there that he died. Leadership then fell to Abu Bakr (632-634), Muhammad’s father-in-law and the first of the four orthodox Caliphs, or temporal leaders of the Muslims. Umar followed him (634-644) and organized the governmental administration of captured provinces. The third caliph was Uthman (644-656), under whose administration the compilation of the Quran was accomplished.

An aspirant to the caliphate was Ali, Muhammad’s cousin and son-in-law. Upon the murder of Uthman, Ali became caliph (656-661). After a civil war with other aspirants to the caliphate, Ali moved his capital to Kufa Iraq, and was later assassinated at Al Kufah. Ali’s followers established the first of Islam’s dissident sects, the Shia (from Shiat Ali “party of Ali”). Those before and after Ali’s succession remained the orthodox of Islam; they are called Sunnis – from the word sunnia meaning orthodox.

The Muslim Schism

(“Muslim” is an Arabic word meaning “submitter” (to God)).

The Twelve Imams

: as presented by Worldatlas.com

The Twelve Imams, together with Prophet Mohammed and his daughter Fatimah al-Zahra, make up the fourteen infallible according to the Shia Islam faith. They are seen as divinely guided leaders and are the holiest people in Islam Religion. They are known as Ahlulbayt meaning the people of the household and the first five of the twelve imams are particularly significant, and they are Prophet Muhammad, Imam Ali, Fatima al-Zahra, Imam Hassan, and Imam Husayn. These holy people helped Prophet Mohammed and guided the Muslim community after the death of the prophet. The other nine Imams continued to guide the community and in particular through scholarship and divine guidance. All Muslims respect the twelve imams because they were divinely ordained and their knowledge and piety are considered exemplary.

The Twelver Imams of Shia

The twelve Imams, and their respective lifespans, are comprised by Ali ibn Abu Talib (600-661 CE), Hasan ibn Ali (625-670 CE), Husayn ibn Ali (626-680 CE), Ali ibn Husayn (658-712 CE), Muhammad Ibn Ali (677-732 CE), Ja’far ibn Muhammad (702-765 CE), Musa ibn Ja’far (744-749 CE), Ali ibn Musa (765-817 CE), Muhammad ibn Ali (810-835 CE), Ali Ibn Muhammad (827-868 CE), Hasan ibn Ali ibn Muhammad (846-874 CE), and Muhammad ibn al-Hassan (Born 869 CE). Many Shia Muslims believe the last of these 12 successors to Muhammad, Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Mahdī, will reappear as the ultimate humankind savior alongside Isa to fulfill their mission to bring peace and justice to the world.

Ali Ibn Abu Talib

Ali was a cousin of Muhammad, and later his son-in-law through Fatima, and the forthrightly guided Caliph. Born to a powerful Sheikh of the Quaraysh, Ali grew to become the most influential and powerful successor of Muhammad. He and Muhammad grew up as brothers, and when the latter received the divine call, he willingly joined him in defending the newly formed faith. Ali fought persecution by the Quaraysh, and when the Muslim migrated to Medina, Ali went with them. In the battle of Badr, Ali took the forefront to fight for what he believed was right and brought victory to Muslim and earned him Muhammad’s favor, approval, and acceptance so as to marry Fatima, Muhammad’s only surviving child. He proved his prowess in the battle and after the death of Muhammad, his right to the caliphate led the historical split in Islam into Sunni and Shia. The Sunni Muslims assassinated him in 661.

The Quraysh were a mercantile Arab tribe that historically inhabited and controlled Mecca and its Ka’bah. The Islamic prophet Muhammad was born into the Hashemite clan of this tribe. Despite this, many of the Qurayshi tribe staunchly opposed Muhammad.

Quraysh: also spelled Kuraish, or Koreish, were the ruling tribe of Mecca at the time of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad. There were 10 main clans, the names of some of which gained great lustre through their members’ status in early Islām. These included Hāshim, the clan of the Prophet himself; Zuhra – that of his mother; and Taim and Adī – the clans of the first and second caliphs, Abū Bakr and ʿUmar I, respectively; and the Umayya, the clan of the third caliph, ʿUthmān, and his relatives, the dynasty of the Umayyad caliphs. Britannica.

The Black or White Turban

When the Turban is black (it signify’s its wearer is a descendant of the Prophet Mohammed through one of the 12 imams of Twelver Shi’ism). If the Turban is white: (its wearer is not a descendant of the Prophet and is of non-Arab origin).

Significance of the Twelver Imams

The Shia Muslims believe in the Twelver caliphates and that Muhammad is the Mahdi, the ultimate savior of humankind. They also believe Islam will rule the world and during the reign justice and righteousness will fill the earth. The belief in Mahdi gave Shia Muslims identity. The Shiites believe that none of the twelve died a natural death. They were either assassinated or poisoned for being a legal threat to the rule of the caliphate. Down the history line, the Shiites fought for recognition, and acceptance by their fellow Muslims. The history of the Twelve is based on revolutionary violence, an art the Shia Muslims had to master to survive. The twelve Imams rebuked assassination or plotting revolution unless they were defending their faith. These Imams make up the foundation rock supporting the Shia faith.

Who are the Shia?

As presented by the BBC.

Shia constitute about 10% of all Muslims, and globally their population is estimated at between 154 and 200 million.Shia Muslims are in the majority in Iran, Iraq, Bahrain, Azerbaijan and, according to some estimates, Yemen. There are also large Shia communities in Afghanistan, India, Kuwait, Lebanon, Pakistan, Qatar, Syria, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

The Umayyad dynasty: After Ali’s murder in 661, Muawiyah – the governor of Syria, (Syria – the Greek name for the region that connected three continents), and a kinsman of Uthman, and also a member of the Quraysh lineage of the Prophet – proclaimed himself caliph and established his capital in Damascus, Syria.

Muawiyah cultivated the goodwill of Christian Syrians by recruiting them for his army at double pay, appointing Christians to many high offices, and by appointing his son by his Christian wife as his successor. {Since the time of Alexander, Greeks had built many cities in Syria and had become the dominate element of the population. By virtue of the Roman occupation, most had become Christians. The province of Syria included the modern elements of Palestine, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria}.

The Turks = Mamluks

Mamluk (Arabic: mamlūk (singular), mamālīk (plural), meaning “property”: also transliterated as mamlouk, mamluq, mamluke, mameluk, mameluke, mamaluke or marmeluke; is an Arabic designation for slaves. The term is most commonly used to refer to Muslim slave soldiers and Muslim rulers of slave origin. (Historically it has come to mean “Exclusively” TURKIC SLAVE SOLDIER).

In the West; Mamluks are first heard of from the Tajikistanian (Central Asian) poet Rudaki (858-941), in a poem about the Samanid emir’s court, he describes how “row upon row” of Turkish slave guards were part of its adornment.

The Syrian army became the basis of Umayyad strength, enabling the bypassing of Arab tribal rivalries. It was under Umayyad Caliph Umar II (reigned 717-720), that these discontented mawali (non-Arab Muslims) were placed on the same footing with all other Muslims, without respect to nationality. This decree allowed Greeks, Turks and other Eurasians to fully assimilate into the Muslim brotherhood.

The Abbasid dynasty: Later the mawali became involved with the Hashimiyah, a religious/political sect that denied the legitimacy of Umayyad rule. In 749 the Hashimiyah, proclaimed as caliph Abu al-‘Abbas as-Saffah, who thereby became first Caliph of the ‘Abbasid dynasty. The Abbasid dynasty would rule over Islam for approximately the next 500 years. The Abbasids were descended from an uncle of Muhammad and were cousins to the ruling Umayyad dynasty. The Abbasids established the caliphate in the new city of Baghdad. The strength of the Abbasid dynasty was its Turkish troops.

The Tulunid dynasty: It was during the rule of Abbasid caliph Harun ar-Rashid (ruled 786-809), that the caliphs began assigning Egypt to Turks rather than to Arabs. The first Turkish dynasty was that of Ibn Tulun who entered Egypt in 868.

The Ikhshidid dynasty: 935 A.D. ushered in the Ikhshidid dynasty of Muhammad ibn Tughj, a Turk from Uzbekistan in Central Asia.

The Ikhshidid dynasty was usurped by their Abyssinian slave tutor named Kafur, he ruled Egypt with the caliphate’s sanction.

The Fatimid Dynasty: When Kafur died in 968, the Fatimids (a contending force for the Caliphate), took advantage of the disorder in Egypt to attack, the attack was successful and led to the occupation of Egypt by a Berber army led by the Fatimid general Jawhar. The early Fatimids’ reliance on Berber troops was soon replaced by the importation of Turkish, Sudanese, and Arab contingents. By the time of their decline however, the Fatimid army was under the leadership of Eurasian Armenian generals, (not Aramaean).

The Ayyubid dynasty: In 1169 The Turkish governor of Syria sent an army lead by Saladin (a Kurd born in Tikrit Iraq), to occupy Egypt.

Saladin, (born 1137/38, Tikrīt, Mesopotamia [now in Iraq] — died March 4, 1193, Damascus [now in Syria]), Muslim sultan of Egypt, Syria, Yemen, and Palestine, founder of the Ayyūbid dynasty, and the most famous of Muslim heroes. In wars against the Christian Crusaders, he achieved great success with the capture of Jerusalem (October 2, 1187), ending its nearly nine decades of occupation by the Franks.

Saladin was born into a prominent Kurdish family. On the night of his birth, his father, Najm al-Dīn Ayyūb, gathered his family and moved to Aleppo, there entering the service of ʿImad al-Dīn Zangī ibn Aq Sonqur, the powerful Turkish governor in northern Syria. Growing up in Baʿlbek and Damascus, Saladin was apparently an undistinguished youth, with a greater taste for religious studies than military training.

His formal career began when he joined the staff of his uncle Asad al-Dīn Shīrkūh, an important military commander under the emir Nūr al-Dīn, who was the son and successor of Zangī. During three military expeditions led by Shīrkūh into Egypt to prevent its falling to the Christian (Frankish) rulers of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem, a complex, three-way struggle developed between Amalric I, the king of Jerusalem; Shāwar, the powerful vizier of the Egyptian Fātimid caliph; and Shīrkūh.

After Shīrkūh’s death and after ordering Shāwar’s assassination, Saladin in 1169 at the age of 31, was appointed both commander of the Syrian troops in Egypt and vizier of the Fātimid caliph there. His relatively quick rise to power must be attributed not only to the clannish nepotism of his Kurdish family but also to his own emerging talents. As vizier of Egypt, he received the title “king” (malik), although he was generally known as the sultan.

Saladin’s position was further enhanced when, in 1171, he abolished the weak and unpopular Shīʿite Fāṭimid caliphate, proclaiming a return to Sunni Islam in Egypt. Although he remained for a time theoretically a vassal of Nūr al-Dīn, that relationship ended with the Syrian emir’s death in 1174. Using his rich agricultural possessions in Egypt as a financial base, Saladin soon moved into Syria with a small but strictly disciplined army to claim the regency on behalf of the young son of his former suzerain.

Soon, however, he abandoned this claim, and from 1174 until 1186 he zealously pursued a goal of uniting, under his own standard, all the Muslim territories of Syria, northern Mesopotamia, Palestine, and Egypt. This he accomplished by skillful diplomacy backed when necessary by the swift and resolute use of military force. Gradually his reputation grew as a generous and virtuous but firm ruler, devoid of pretense, licentiousness, and cruelty. In contrast to the bitter dissension and intense rivalry that had up to then hampered the Muslims in their resistance to the Crusaders, Saladin’s singleness of purpose induced them to rearm both physically and spiritually.

Saladin’s every act was inspired by an intense and unwavering devotion to the idea of jihad, or holy war. It was an essential part of his policy to encourage the growth and spread of Muslim religious institutions. He courted their scholars and preachers, founded colleges and mosques for their use, and commissioned them to write edifying works, especially on the jihad itself. Through moral regeneration, which was a genuine part of his own way of life, he tried to re-create in his own realm some of the same zeal and enthusiasm that had proved so valuable to the first generations of Muslims when, five centuries before, they had conquered half the known world.

Saladin also succeeded in turning the military balance of power in his favor, by uniting and disciplining a great number of unruly forces than by employing new or improved military techniques. When at last, in 1187, he was able to throw his full strength into the struggle with the Latin Crusader kingdoms, his armies were their equals. On July 4, 1187, aided by his own military good sense and by a phenomenal lack of it on the part of his enemy, Saladin trapped and destroyed in one blow an exhausted and thirst-crazed army of Crusaders at Hattin, near Tiberias in northern Palestine. So great were the losses in the ranks of the Crusaders in this one battle that the Muslims were quickly able to overrun nearly the entire kingdom of Jerusalem. Acre, Toron, Beirut, Sidon, Nazareth, Caesarea, Nāblus, Jaffa (Yafo), and Ascalon (Ashqelon) fell within three months. But Saladin’s crowning achievement and the most disastrous blow to the whole Crusading movement came on October 2, 1187, when the city of Jerusalem, holy to both Muslim and Christian alike, surrendered to Saladin’s army after 88 years in the hands of the Franks.

Saladin planned to avenge the slaughter of Muslims in Jerusalem in 1099 by killing all Christians in the city, but he agreed to let them purchase their freedom provided that the Christian defenders left the Muslim inhabitants unmolested.

His sudden success, which in 1189 saw the Crusaders reduced to the occupation of only three cities, was, however, marred by his failure to capture Tyre, an almost impregnable coastal fortress to which the scattered Christian survivors of the recent battles flocked. It was to be the rallying point of the Latin counterattack. Most probably, Saladin did not anticipate the European reaction to his capture of Jerusalem, an event that deeply shocked the West and to which it responded with a new call for a Crusade. In addition to many great nobles and famous knights, this Crusade, the third, brought the kings of three countries into the struggle. The magnitude of the Christian effort and the lasting impression it made on contemporaries gave the name of Saladin, as their gallant and chivalrous enemy, an added lustre that his military victories alone could never confer on him.

The Crusade itself was long and exhausting, despite the obvious, though at times impulsive, military genius of Richard I (the Lion-Heart). Therein lies the greatest—but often unrecognized achievement of Saladin. With tired and unwilling feudal levies, committed to fight only a limited season each year, his indomitable will enabled him to fight the greatest champions of Christendom to a draw. The Crusaders retained little more than a precarious foothold on the Levantine coast, and when King Richard left the Middle East, in October 1192, the battle was over. Saladin withdrew to his capital at Damascus.

Soon the long campaigning seasons and the endless hours in the saddle caught up with him, and he died. While his relatives were already scrambling for pieces of the empire, his friends found that the most powerful and most generous ruler in the Muslim world had not left enough money to pay for his grave. Saladin’s family continued to rule over Egypt and neighbouring lands as the Ayyūbid dynasty, which succumbed to the Mamlūk (Turkish Slave Soldiers) dynasty in 1250.

The Kurds The progenitor of the Ayyubid dynasty was Najm ad-Din Ayyub bin Shadhi. He belonged to a Kurdish tribe whose ancestors settled in the town of Dvin, in northern Armenia. He belonged to the tribe of Rawadiya, itself a branch of the Hadhabani tribe. The Rawadiya were the dominant Kurdish group in the Dvin district. They were a member of the sedentary political-military elite of the town. Circumstances became unfavorable in Dvin when Turkish generals seized the town from its Kurdish prince. Shadhi left for Iraq with his two sons Najm al-Din Ayyub and Asad al-Din Shirkuh. He was welcomed by his friend Mujahed al-Din Bihruz—the military governor of northern Mesopotamia under the Seljuks Turks — who appointed Shadhi as the governor of Tikrit.
The Hadhabani tribe was a large medieval Kurdish tribe divided into several groups, centered at Arbil, Ushnu and Urmia in central and north-eastern Kurdistan. Their dominion included surrounding areas of Maragha and Urmia to the east, Salmas to the north and parts of Arbil and Mosul to the west. About 10th century they gradually immigrated northward to the areas around lake Urmia with Ushnu as their summer capital. They ruled the area for a while but later split to a few branches who spread across Azerbaijan (at the time Turks still had not invaded Azerbaijan), and Caucasus. Saladin the renowned Muslim ruler was descendant of one of Hadhabani branches. Apparently the “REAL” unmixed Kurds, may have been descendants of the Sumerians/Akkadians/Assyrians, or perhaps even the Colchians or Artaxiads of Armenia.

The Mamluk dynasty: In 1250 A.D. The Mamluks rebelled and established their own dynasty.

It is at this time that the genius of Egyptians shows itself again. As it is at this time that the Egyptians invent the first actual “Gun” which is first used by their Turkish Masters, the Mamluks, against the invading Mongols: at the battle of Ain Jalut in 1260 A.D.
In the beginning.. The Turks and their neighbors, the Mongols
The first known Turkic Empire – T’u-chüeh Empire – consisting of two parts, the northern and western Turks. The Orhon inscriptions, the oldest known Turkic records (8th century), refer to this empire and particularly to the confederation of Turkic tribes known as the Oguz; and the Uighur, who lived along the Selenga River (in present-day Mongolia); and to the Kyrgyz, who lived along the Yenisey River (in north-central Russia). When able to escape the domination of the T’ang dynasty, these northern Turkic groups fought each other for control of Mongolia from the 8th to the 11th century, when the Oguz migrated westward into Persia and Afghanistan.
In Persia the family of Turkic Oguz tribes known as Seljuqs created an empire that by the late 11th century stretched from the Amu Darya south to the Persian Gulf and from the Indus River west to the Mediterranean Sea. In 1071 the Seljuq sultan Alp-Arslan defeated the Byzantine Empire at the Battle of Manzikert and thereby opened the way for several million Oguz tribesmen to settle in Anatolia. These Turks came to form the bulk of the population there, and one Oguz tribal chief, Osman, founded the Ottoman dynasty (early 14th century) that would subsequently extend Turkish power throughout the eastern Mediterranean. The Oguz are the primary ancestors of the Turks of present-day Turkey. The Uighur were driven out of Mongolia and settled in the 9th century in what is now the Xinjiang region of northwestern China. Some Uighur moved westward into what is now Uzbekistan, where they forsook nomadic pastoralism for a sedentary lifestyle. These people became known as Uzbek, named for a ruler of a local Mongol dynasty of that name.
Genghis Khan In 1218, Genghis Khan sent a trade mission to the Khwarezm-Shah, (dynasty of Turkic Mamluk origin who converted to Sunni Muslim): but at the town of Otrara (a Central Asian town that was located along the Silk Road near the current town of Karatau in Kazakhstan) the governor there, suspecting the Khan’s ambassadors to be spies, confiscated their goods and executed them. Genghis Khan demanded reparations, which the Shah refused to pay. Genghis Khan then sent a second, purely diplomatic mission, they too were murdered. Genghis retaliated with a force of 200,000 men, launching a multi-pronged invasion, his guides were Muslim merchants from Transoxania. During the years 1220–21, Bukhara, Samarkand, Herat (all Central Asian cities), Tus (Susa), and Neyshabur (Persian cities) were razed, and the whole populations were slaughtered. (This represented the second wholesale slaughter of Black Persians, after the Arab conquest).
A second Mongol invasion began when Genghis Khan’s grandson Hülegü Khan crossed the Oxus river in 1256 and destroyed the Assassin fortress at Alamut (northeastern Iran). With the disintegration of the Turk Seljuq empire, the Arab Caliphate had reasserted control in the area around Baghdad and in southwestern Persia. Il-Khanid dynasty The Il-Khanid dynasty was a Mongol dynasty that ruled in Iran from 1256 to 1335. Il-khan is Persian for “subordinate khan.”
Hülegü Hülegü, a grandson of Genghis Khan, was given the task of capturing Persia/Iran by the paramount Mongol chieftain Möngke. Hülegü set out in about 1253 with a Mongol army of 130,000. He founded the Il-Khanid dynasty in 1256, and by 1258 he had captured Baghdad (Iraq) and all of Iran. The Il-Khans consolidated their position in Persia/Iran and reunited the region as a political and territorial entity after several centuries of fragmented rule by petty dynasties. During the reign of the Il-Khanid Mamūd Ghāzān (reigned 1295–1304), the Il-Khans lost all contact with the remaining Mongol chieftains of China. Mamūd Ghāzān himself embraced Sunni Islam, and his reign was a period of Persian/Iranian cultural renaissance in which such scholars as Rashīd al-Dīn flourished under his patronage. Ghāzān’s brother Öljeitü (reigned 1304–16) converted to Shīʿite Islam in 1310. Öljeitü’s conversion gave rise to great unrest, and civil war was imminent when he died in 1316. His son and successor, Abū Saʿīd (reigned 1317–35), reconverted to Sunni Islam and thus averted war. However, during Abū Saʿīd’s reign, factional disputes and internal disturbances continued and became rampant. Abū Saʿīd died without leaving an heir, and with his death the unity of the dynasty was fractured. Thereafter various Il-Khanid princes ruled portions of the dynasty’s former territory until 1353.
Siege of Baghdad (1258) The Siege of Baghdad, which lasted from January 29 until February 10, 1258, entailed the investment, capture, and sack of Baghdad, the capital of the Abbasid (Arab) Caliphate, by Ilkhanate Mongol forces and allied troops. The Mongols were under the command of Hulagu Khan (or Hulegu Khan), brother of the khagan Möngke Khan, who had intended to further extend his rule into Mesopotamia but not to directly overthrow the Caliphate. Möngke, however, had instructed Hulagu to attack Baghdad if the Caliph Al-Musta’sim refused Mongol demands for his continued submission to the khagan and the payment of tribute in the form of military support for Mongol forces in Iran. Hulagu began his campaign in Iran with several offensives against (Turkic) Nizari groups, including the Assassins, who lost their stronghold of Alamut.   _____________________________________________
Nizari Ismailism, is a denomination of Isma’ilism within Shia Islam consisting of an estimated 25 million adherents (about 20% of the world’s Shia Muslim population). The Nizaris are the largest branch of the Ismaili Shi’i Muslims, the second-largest branch of Shia Islam (the largest being the Twelver). Nizari Isma’ili history is often traced through the unbroken hereditary chain of Guardianship or (waliya). The first Aga Khan was given his title in 1818 by the shah of Persia. The current Imam is His Highness Shah Karim Al-Husayni, the Aga Khan IV.     The current Aga Khan is a business magnate with British citizenship, racehorse owner and breeder. He has held this position of Imam, under the title of Aga Khan IV, since 11 July 1957, when, at the age of 20, he succeeded his grandfather, Sir Sultan Muhammad Shah Aga Khan III.
The Nizaris posed a strategic threat to Sunni Seljuq (Turkic) authority by capturing and inhabiting several mountain fortresses throughout Persia and later Syria, under the leadership of Hassan-i Sabbah. Asymmetric warfare, psychological warfare, and surgical strikes were often an employed tactic of the assassins, drawing their opponents into submission rather than risk killing them.
{Assassins is the common name used to refer to an Islamic sect formally known as the Nizari Ismailis. Often described as a secret order led by a mysterious “Old Man of the Mountain”, the Nizari Ismailis formed in the late 11th century after a split within Ismailism – a branch of Shia Islam}. While “Assassins” typically refers to the entire sect, only a group of acolytes known as the fida’i actually engaged in conflict. Lacking their own army, the Nizari relied on these warriors to carry out espionage and assassinations of key enemy figures, and over the course of 300 years successfully killed two caliphs, and many viziers, sultans, and Crusader leaders.
Under leadership of Imam Rukn-ud-Din Khurshah, the Nizari state declined internally, and was eventually destroyed as the Imam surrendered the castles to the invading Mongols. Sources on the history and thought of the Ismailis in this period are therefore lacking and the majority extant are written by their detractors. Long after their near-eradication, mentions of Assassins were preserved within European sources – such as the writings of Marco Polo – where they are depicted as trained killers, responsible for the systematic elimination of opposing figures.
  _____________________________________________   He then marched on Baghdad, demanding that Al-Musta’sim accede to the terms imposed by Möngke on the Abbasids. Although the Abbasids had failed to prepare for the invasion, the Caliph believed that Baghdad could not fall to invading forces and refused to surrender. Hulagu subsequently besieged the city, which surrendered after 12 days. During the next week, the Mongols sacked Baghdad, committing numerous atrocities and destroyed the Abbasids’ vast libraries, including the House of Wisdom. The Mongols executed Al-Musta’sim and massacred many residents of the city, which was left greatly depopulated. The siege is considered to mark the end of the Islamic Golden Age, during which the caliphs had extended their rule from the Iberian Peninsula to Sindh, and which was also marked by many cultural achievements. Background Baghdad had for centuries been the capital of the Abbasid Caliphate, the third caliphate whose rulers were descendants of Abbas, an uncle of Muhammad. In 751, the Abbasids overthrew the Umayyads and moved the Caliph’s seat from Damascus to Baghdad. At the city’s peak, it was populated by approximately one million people and was defended by an army of 60,000 soldiers. By the middle of the 13th century, however, the power of the Abbasids had declined and Turkic and Mamluk warlords often held power over the Caliphs. Baghdad still retained much symbolic significance, however, and it remained a rich and cultured city. The Caliphs of the 12th and 13th centuries had begun to develop links with the expanding Mongol Empire in the east. Caliph an-Nasir li-dini’llah, who reigned from 1180–1225, may have attempted an alliance with Genghis Khan when Muhammad II of Khwarezm threatened to attack the Abbasids. It has been rumored that some Crusader captives were sent as tribute to the Mongol khagan. According to The Secret History of the Mongols, Genghis and his successor, Ögedei Khan, ordered their general Chormaqan to attack Baghdad. In 1236, Chormaqan led a division of the Mongol army to Irbil, which remained under Abbasid rule. Further raids on Irbil and other regions of the caliphate became nearly annual occurrences. Some raids were alleged to have reached Baghdad itself, but these Mongol incursions were not always successful, with Abbasid forces defeating the invaders in 1238 and 1245. Despite their successes, the Abbasids hoped to come to terms with the Mongols and by 1241 had adopted the practice of sending an annual tribute to the court of the khagan. Envoys from the Caliph were present at the coronation of Güyük Khan as khagan in 1246 and that of Möngke Khan in 1251. During his brief reign, Güyük insisted that the Caliph Al-Musta’sim fully submit to Mongol rule and come personally to Karakorum. Blame for the Caliph’s refusal and for other resistance offered by the Abbasids to increased attempts by the Mongols to extend their power was placed by the khagans on Chormaqan’s lieutenant and successor, Baiju.
Hulagu’s expedition In 1257, Möngke resolved to establish firm authority over Mesopotamia, Syria, and Iran. The khagan gave his brother, Hulagu, authority over a subordinate khanate and army, the Ilkhanate, and instructions to compel the submission of various Muslim states, including the caliphate. Though not seeking the overthrow of Al-Musta’sim, Möngke ordered Hulagu to destroy Baghdad if the Caliph refused his demands of personal submission to Hulagu and the payment of tribute in the form of a military detachment, which would reinforce Hulagu’s army during its campaigns against Iranian Ismaili states.
In preparation for his invasion, Hulagu raised a large expeditionary force, conscripting one out of every ten military-age males in the entirety of the Mongol Empire, assembling what may have been the most numerous Mongol army to have existed and, by one estimate, 150,000 strong. Generals of the army included the Oirat administrator Arghun Agha, Baiju, Buqa Temür, Guo Kan, and Kitbuqa, as well as Hulagu’s brother Sunitai and various other warlords. The force was also supplemented by Christian forces, including the King of Armenia and his army, a Frankish contingent from the Principality of Antioch, and a Georgian force, seeking revenge on the Muslim Abbasids for the sacking of their capital, Tiflis, decades earlier by the Khwarazm-Shahs. About 1,000 Chinese artillery experts accompanied the army, as did Persian and Turkic auxiliaries, according to Ata-Malik Juvayni, a contemporary Persian observer. Early campaigns Hulagu led his army first to Iran, where he successfully campaigned against the Lurs, the Bukhara, and the remnants of the Khwarezm-Shah dynasty. After subduing them, Hulagu directed his attention toward the Ismaili Assassins and their Grand Master, Imam ‘Ala al-Din Muhammad, who had attempted the murder of both Möngke and Hulagu’s friend and subordinate, Kitbuqa. Though Assassins failed in both attempts, Hulagu marched his army to their stronghold of Alamut, which he captured. The Mongols later executed the Assassins’ Grand Master, Imam Rukn al-Dun Khurshah, who had briefly succeeded ‘Ala al-Din Muhammad from 1255-1256.
Hulagu’s march to Baghdad After defeating the Assassins, Hulagu sent word to Al-Musta’sim, demanding his acquiescence to the terms imposed by Möngke. Al-Musta’sim refused, in large part due to the influence of his advisor and grand vizier, Ibn al-Alkami. Historians have ascribed various motives to al-Alkami’s opposition to submission, including treachery and incompetence, and it appears that he lied to the Caliph about the severity of the invasion, assuring Al-Musta’sim that, if the capital of the caliphate was endangered by a Mongol army, the Islamic world would rush to its aid. Although he replied to Hulagu’s demands in a manner that the Mongol commander found menacing and offensive enough to break off further negotiation, Al-Musta’sim neglected to summon armies to reinforce the troops at his disposal in Baghdad. Nor did he strengthen the city’s walls. By January 11 the Mongols were close to the city, establishing themselves on both banks of the Tigris River so as to form a pincer around the city. Al-Musta’sim finally decided to do battle with them and sent out a force of 20,000 cavalry to attack the Mongols. The cavalry were decisively defeated by the Mongols, whose sappers breached dikes along the Tigris River and flooded the ground behind the Abbasid forces, trapping them.
Siege of the city The Abbasid caliphate could supposedly call upon 50,000 soldiers for the defense of their capital, including the 20,000 cavalry under al-Musta’sim. However, hastily assembled these troops were poorly equipped and poorly disciplined. Although the caliph technically had the authority to summon soldiers from other Muslim empires to defend his realm, he either neglected to do so or lacked the ability to. His taunting opposition had lost him the loyalty of the Mamluks, and the Syrian emirs, who he supported, were busy preparing their own defenses.
On January 29, the Mongol army began its siege of Baghdad, constructing a palisade and a ditch around the city. Employing siege engines and catapults, the Mongols attempted to breach the city’s walls, and, by February 5, had seized a significant portion of the defenses. Realizing that his forces had little chance of retaking the walls, Al-Musta’sim attempted to open negotiations with Hulagu, who rebuffed the Caliph. Around 3,000 of Baghdad’s notables also tried to negotiate with Hulagu but were murdered. Five days later, on February 10, the city surrendered, but the Mongols did not enter the city until the 13th, beginning a week of massacre and destruction.
Destruction Many historical accounts detailed the cruelties of the Mongol conquerors.
The Grand Library of Baghdad, containing countless precious historical documents and books on subjects ranging from medicine to astronomy, was destroyed. Survivors said that the waters of the Tigris ran black with ink from the enormous quantities of books flung into the river and red from the blood of the scientists and philosophers killed.
Citizens attempted to flee, but were intercepted by Mongol soldiers who killed in abundance, sparing neither women nor children. Martin Sicker writes that close to 90,000 people may have died. Other estimates go much higher. Wassaf claims the loss of life was several hundred thousand. Ian Frazier of The New Yorker says estimates of the death toll have ranged from 200,000 to a million.
The Mongols looted and then destroyed mosques, palaces, libraries, and hospitals. Priceless books from Baghdad’s thirty-six public libraries were torn apart, the looters using their leather covers as sandals. Grand buildings that had been the work of generations were burned to the ground.
The caliph Al-Musta’sim was captured and forced to watch as his citizens were murdered and his treasury plundered. According to most accounts, the caliph was killed by trampling. The Mongols rolled the caliph up in a rug, and rode their horses over him, as they believed that the earth would be offended if it were touched by royal blood. But the Venetian traveller Marco Polo claimed that Al-Musta’sim was locked in a tower with nothing to eat but gold and “died like a dog”. All but one of Al-Musta’sim’s sons were killed, and the sole surviving son was sent to Mongolia, where Mongolian historians report he married and fathered children, but played no role in Islam thereafter (see The end of the Abbasid dynasty). Hulagu had to move his camp upwind of the city, due to the stench of decay from the ruined city.
Baghdad was a depopulated, ruined city for several centuries, and only gradually recovered some of its former glory.  
Comments on the destruction
“Iraq in 1258 was very different from present day Iraq. Its agriculture was supported by canal networks thousands of years old. Baghdad was one of the most brilliant intellectual centers in the world. The Mongol destruction of Baghdad was a psychological blow from which Islam never recovered. With the sack of Baghdad, the intellectual flowering of Islam was snuffed out. Imagining the Athens of Pericles and Aristotle obliterated by a nuclear weapon begins to suggest the enormity of the blow. The Mongols filled in the irrigation canals and left Iraq too depopulated to restore them.”
“They swept through the city like hungry falcons attacking a flight of doves, or like raging wolves attacking sheep, with loose reins and shameless faces, murdering and spreading terror…beds and cushions made of gold and encrusted with jewels were cut to pieces with knives and torn to shreds. Those hiding behind the veils of the great Harem were dragged…through the streets and alleys, each of them becoming a plaything…as the population died at the hands of the invaders.” (Abdullah Wassaf as cited by David Morgan) Causes for agricultural decline
Some historians believe that the Mongol invasion destroyed much of the irrigation infrastructure that had sustained Mesopotamia for many millennia. Canals were cut as a military tactic and never repaired. So many people died or fled that neither the labor nor the organization were sufficient to maintain the canal system. It broke down or silted up. This theory was advanced by historian Svatopluk Souček in his 2000 book, A History of Inner Asia. Other historians point to soil salination as the culprit in the decline in agriculture.
Hulagu left 3,000 Mongol soldiers behind to rebuild Baghdad. Ata-Malik Juvayni was later appointed governor of Baghdad, Lower Mesopotamia, and Khuzistan after Guo Kan went back to Yuan Dynasty to assist Kublai conquest over the Song Dynasty. The Mongol Hulagu’s Nestorian Christian wife, Dokuz Khatun successfully interceded to spare the lives of Baghdad’s Christian inhabitants. Hulagu offered the royal palace to the Nestorian Catholicos Mar Makikha, and ordered a cathedral to be built for him.
Initially, the fall of Baghdad came as a shock to the whole Muslim world, but the city became an economic center where international trade, the minting of coins and religious affairs flourished under the Ilkhans. The chief Mongol darughachi (officials in the Mongol Empire in charge of taxes and administration) was thereafter stationed in the city.     The Battle of ʿAyn Jālūt
Written By: Charles Phillips
Battle of ʿAyn Jālūt, ʿAyn Jālūt also spelled Ain Jalut, (September 3, 1260), decisive victory of the Mamlūks of Egypt over the invading Mongols, which saved Egypt and Islam and halted the westward expansion of the Mongol empire. Baghdad, the capital city of the ʿAbbāsid caliphate, had fallen to the Mongols under the Il-Khan Hülegü in 1258, and the last ʿAbbāsid caliph had been put to death. In 1259 the Mongol army, led by the Christian Turk Kitbuga, moved into Syria, took Damascus and Aleppo, and reached the shores of the Mediterranean Sea. The Mongols then sent an envoy to Cairo in 1260 to demand the submission of al-Muẓaffar Sayf al-Dīn Quṭuz, the Mamlūk sultan, whose reply was the execution of the envoy. The two powers then prepared for battle.
With its army led by Qutuz, the Mamluks marched north to defeat a small Mongolian force at Gaza, then came up against a Mongol army of around 20,000 at Ain Jalut (Goliath’s Spring – so called because it was held to be the place where King David of Israel killed the Philistine warrior Goliath, as described in the book of Samuel). The Mongol army contained a sizable group of Syrian warriors, as well as Christian Georgian and Armenian troops. The two armies were roughly matched in numbers, but the Mamluks had one great advantage: one of their generals, Baybars, was familiar with the terrain because he had been a fugitive in the area earlier in his life. Baybars reputedly drew up the battle strategy, which used one of the Mongols’ most successful tactics: that of the feigned retreat.
At ʿAyn Jālūt the Mamluks concealed the bulk of their army among trees in the hills and sent forward a small force under Baybars; his group rode back and forward repeatedly in order to provoke and occupy the Mongols for several hours, before beginning a feigned retreat. Ked-Buqa fell for the trick and ordered an advance; his army poured forward in pursuit only to be ambushed by the main Mamluk army in the hills. Then the Mamluks attacked from all sides, unleashing their cavalry and a heavy storm of arrows, but the Mongols fought with typical ferocity and succeeded in turning and breaking the left wing of the Mamluk army. First use of a “Gun”
In this close fighting, the Mamluks used a hand cannon—known as “midfa” in Arabic—primarily to frighten the Mongolian warriors’ horses and cause confusion. Contemporary accounts report that Mamluk sultan Qutuz threw down his helmet and urged his men forward to fight in the name of Islam, and that after this inspiring speech the Mamluks began to gain the upper hand. Then Mongol general Ked-Buqa was killed in battle: or, according to one account, was taken prisoner by the Mamluks and, after he declared defiantly that the khan would inflict savage revenge for this defeat, was beheaded on the battlefield. Finally, the Mongols turned and began to retreat, heading for Beisan, eight miles away. The Mamluks pursued them all the way. At Beisan, the Mongols turned to fight once more, but were heavily defeated. The Mongol empire was thus contained in Iran and Mesopotamia, leaving Egypt secure in Muslim (Turk) Mamlūk hands.
The Mamluks made the most of the propaganda value of their remarkable victory over the seemingly invincible Mongols, dispatching a messenger to Cairo bearing Ked-Buqa’s head on a staff. Subsequently, General Baybars formed a conspiracy against Qutuz, who was murdered as he made his way back to Cairo. Baybars seized power for himself.   Albino implications and falsifications As just seen, Albino historians, when not trying to imply that the originators of all civilizations were White, not Black: they routinely try to downplay the importance of what Blacks accomplished. Note this innocuous seeming statement: “In this close fighting, the Mamluks used a hand cannon, primarily to frighten the Mongolian warriors’ horses and cause confusion.” The fact is that there is absolutely NO evidence that the Egyptian created “Worlds First Gun” was not effective and successful. But however, there is ample evidence of Albino falsifications. In this particular case, the Mongols and their Horses would hardly be surprised or frightened by “Gunpowder” going off: as “BOMBS” were made and used in China since the Song Dynasty of the 11th century.
We are actually surprised that Albino historians are not suggesting that it was the White Turk Mamluks themselves who invented the first Gun. Then again, perhaps they feared that it was too well known that the Mamluks were merely illiterate former “Slave Soldiers”.

The Ottoman dynasty: In 1516 A.D. the Ottoman Turks along with other Eastern European troops (Serbs and Bosnians), defeated the Mamluks.

In 1798, the French army under Napoleon, invaded and occupied Egypt.

Link: Napoleon in Egypt, or Egomaniac on the LooseUniversity of Illinois

In 1801, the British invaded and occupied Egypt.

Muhammad Ali (Pasha): In March 1803 the British were evacuated in accordance with the Peace of Amiens. But the Ottomans, determined to reassert their control over Egypt remained, establishing their power through a viceroy and an occupying army of Albanians. The Albanians later mutinied and installed their own leader as acting viceroy. When he was assassinated shortly afterward, the command of the Albanians passed to his lieutenant, Muhammad Ali. The dynasty that he established would rule Egypt and Sudan until the Egyptian Revolution of 1952.

In Arabia, the domination of Mecca and Medina by puritanical Wahhabi Muslims was a serious embarrassment to the Ottoman sultan, who was the titular overlord of the Arabian territory of the Hejaz and the leading Muslim sovereign. At the invitation of Sultan Mahmud II (1808-39), Muhammad Ali sent an expedition to Arabia that between 1811 and 1813 expelled the Wahhabis from the Hejaz. In a further campaign (1816-18), Ibrahim Pasha, the viceroy’s eldest son, defeated the Wahhabis in their homeland of Najd, and brought central Arabia under Albanian control.

In 1820-21 Muhammad Ali sent an expedition up the Nile and conquered much of what is now the northern Sudan. By so doing, he made himself master of one of the principal channels of the slave trade, and began an African Empire that was to be expanded under his successors. The conquest of the Sudan was intended to provide recruits. But the slaves, encamped at Aswan, died wholesale, and Muhammad Ali had to look elsewhere for his troops. In 1823 he took to conscripting Egyptian peasants for the rank and file of his new army. On the other hand, the officers were mostly Turkish Ottomans, while the director of the whole enterprise, Sulayman Pasha (Colonel Sève), was a former French officer. The conscription was brutally administered.

In 1882 the British once again invaded and occupied Egypt. This occupation was to last until the end of WWI. After which, Egypt became a protectorate of Britain.

Egypt 1882

From the Brooklyn Museums Lantern Slide Collection

Egypt – Arabian Horse and man from Sais, Cairo
Egypt – Bisharin Man, Assuan/Aswan
Egypt – Donkey and Cart, Kasr-el-Nil
For more pictures of Egypt 1882: similar Algerian pictures, as well as erotic Picture Post Cards from North Africa, for the same period: Click here >>>

The British Spy – Colonel Gerard E. Leachman

Gerard Leachman

Brevet Lieut. Colonel Gerard E. Leachman CIE DSO (1880 – 1920), was a British soldier and spy who travelled extensively in Arabia.

Leachman was commissioned into the Royal Sussex Regiment and served in India and in the Boer War. He spent most of his career as a political officer and spy in Iraq, where he was instrumental in pacifying warring tribes to bring stability to the new country. Leachman also made various expeditions further south into Arabia, where he contacted Ibn Sa’ud on behalf of the British government. He travelled as a naturalist of the Royal Geographical Society, but was in fact a British agent. With his skill at riding a camel, Leachman was easily able to pass as Bedouin and often travelled incognito.

Leachman’s first major expedition South into the Arabian Peninsula was in 1909, during which he was involved in a ferocious battle between the Anaiza and Shammar tribes near Ha’il. In 1912 Leachman made a second expedition with the intention of crossing the Rub Al Khali, but was refused permission by Ibn Sa’ud when he reached Riyadh and instead went to Hasa. He was the first Briton to be received by Ibn Sa’ud in his home city.

In December, 1915, during the Siege of Kut, the British commanding officer, Major General Charles Townshend, ordered Leachman to save the British cavalry by breaking out and riding south. This he did and the cavalry were the only British unit to escape before the fall of the city to the Ottomans.

Leachman was close to Gertrude Bell‘s friend Fahd Bey and fought with the Muntafiq tribal federation. After the war, he was made first military governor of Kurdistan. He was murdered by Sheikh Dhari, a tribal leader, near Fallujah (Iraq) on August 12, 1920.

The Movie about Colonel Gerard E. Leachman

Clash of Loyalties aka The Great Question) is a 1983 Iraqi film focusing on the formation of Iraq out of Mesopotamia in the aftermath of the First World War. The film was financed by Saddam Hussain, filmed in Iraq (mainly at the Baghdad Film Studios in Baghdad’s Mansour neighbourhood and on location at the Tigris-Euphrates marshlands, Babylon and Kut) at the height of the Iran–Iraq War and starred Oliver Reed as Gerard Leachman.

In 1922 Egypt was granted limited independence, and on March 15, the Sultan Ahmad Fuad, son of the Turkish Khedive (Viceroy), Ismail Pasha, became King Fuad I of Egypt.

On Feb.1,1958, Egypt and Syria proclaimed the two countries to be the United “Arab” Republic (U.A.R.). The union ended on Sept. 28, 1961, when Syria, following a military coup, declared itself independent of Egypt. Despite the dissolution of the union, Egypt retained the name United Arab Republic until Sept. 2, 1971, when it took its current name the “Arab Republic of Egypt”.

Click Here for a Picture Gallery of Turkish Rulers of Egypt. Click >>>

Egyptian King and Ruler list The ancient Egyptian Kinglist is very fluid, as new attestations for previously unknown kings or Queens are discovered (such as newfound Serekhs or Cartouches), the list is updated. Chronological dates are educated guesses.  
Abbasid Rulers (governors operating under the authority of foreign Caliphs)
Saleh Ibn Ali Ibn Abdullah Ibn Abbas Ibn Abdul Mottalib Ibn Hisham (750-750 AD)
Abu Awn Abdul Malik Ibn Yazid (751-753 AD)
Saleh Ibn Ali Ibn Abdullah ibn Abbas Ibn Abdul Motallib Ibn Hisham (753-755 AD)
Abu Awn Abdul Malik Ibn Yazid (755-758 AD)
Moussa Ibn Ka’b Ibn Oyayna Ibn Aisha Ibn Amro Ibn Serri Ibn Aeiza Ibn al-Harith Ibn Emro’a al-Quays (758- 759 AD)
Mohammed Ibn al-Aha’th al-Khoza’i (759-759 AD)
Hamid Ibn Quahtaba (760- 762 AD)
Yazid Ibn Hatim al-Mohalabi (762- 772 AD)
Mohammed Ibn Abdul Rahman Ibn Muawya Ibn Hodeig (772 – 772 AD)
Moussa Ibn Ollai Ibn Rabah al-lakhmi (772- 778 AD)
Eissa Ibn Loquman al-Gomahi (778- 779 AD)
Wadih, Mawla of Abu Ga’far (779- 779 AD)
Mansour Ibn Yazid Ibn Mansour al-Re’ini (779- 779 AD)
Yahya Ibn Daoud al-horashi (Ibn Mamdoud) (779- 780 AD)
Salim Ibn Sawada al-Tamimi (780- 781 AD)
Ibrahin Ibn Saleh Ibn Abdullah Ibn Abbas (781- 784 AD)
Moussa Ibn Mous’ab al-Khath’ami (784-785 AD)
Asama Ibn Amro al-Ma’fri (785-785 AD)
Al-Fadl Ibn Saleh Ibn Ali al-Abbassi (785-785 AD)
Ali Ibn Salman al-Abbassi (786- 787 AD)
Moussa Ibn Eissa Ibn Moussa al-Abbassi (787-789 AD)
Muslima Ibn Yahia al-Bagli (789- 790 AD)
Mohammed Ibn Zoheir al-Azdi (790-790 AD)
Daoud Ibn Yazid al-Mouhallabi (790-791 AD)
Moussa Ibn Eissa Ibn Moussa al-Abbassi (791-792 AD)
Ibrahim Ibn Saleh Ibn Abdullah al-Abbassi (792-792 AD)
Abdullah Ibn al-Mousayyeb Ibn Zoheir al-Dabbi (792-793 AD)
Ishak Ibn Soliman (793-794 AD)
Harmatha Ibn A’youn (794-795 AD)
Abdullah Ibn al-Mosayyeb al-Abbassi (795 795 AD)
Abdullah Ibn al-Mahdi al-Abbassi (795-795 AD)
Moussa Ibn Eissa Ibn Moussa al-Abbassi (796-797 AD)
Oubeidullah Ibn al-Mahdi al-Abbassi (796-797 AD)
Ismail Ibn Saleh al-Abbassi (797-798 AD)
Ismail Ibn Eaissa al-Abbassi (789-798 AD)
Al-Layth Ibn al-Fadl (798-803 AD)
Ahmed Ibn Ismail Ibn Ali Ibn Abdullah al-Abbassi (803-805 AD)
Abdullah Ibn Mohammed al-Abbassi (Ibn Zeinab) (805-806 AD)
Al-Hussein Ibn Gamil (806-808 AD)
Malik Ibn Dalhem al-Kalbi (808-808 AD)
Al-Hassan Ibn al-Takhtakh (809-809 AD)
Hatim Ibn Harthama Ibn A’youn (810-811 AD)
Gaber Ibn Asha’th al-Ta’i (811-812 AD)
Abbad Ibn Mohammed Ibn Hayyan (812-813 AD)
Al-Mottab Ibn Abdullal al-Khoza’I, Rabei Awwal (813-814 AD)
Al-Abbass Ibn Moussa Ibn Eissa al-Abbassi (814-814 AD)
Al-Mottalib Ibn Abdullah al-Khoza’i (814-815 AD)
Al-Serri Ibn al-Hakam (815-816 AD)
Soliman Ibn Ghalib Ibn Gebril al-Bagli (816-817 AD)
Al-Serri Ibn al-Hakam (817-820 AD)
Abu al-Nassr Ibn al-Serri, Gomadi al-Akhera (820-822 AD)
Obeidullah Ibn al-Serri (822-822 AD)
Khalid Ibn Yazid Ibn Mazid al-Shibany (822-826 AD)
Abdullah Ibn Tahir Ibn al-Hussein (826-827 AD)
Eissan Ibn Yazid al-Gloudi (829-829 AD)
Omair Ibn al-Walid (829-829 AD)
Eissa Ibn Yazid al-Gloudi (829-830 AD)
Abd Waih Ibn Gabla (830-831 AD)
Caliph al-Ma’moun (831-832 AD)
Quaidar Nassr Ibn Abdullah (832-834 AD)
Mozzaffar Ibn Quaidar (834-834 AD)
Moussa Ibn Abi al-Abbass (834-839 AD)
Malik Ibn Quaidar (839-841 AD)
Ali Ibn Yahia al-Armani (841-843 AD)
Eissa Ibn al-Mansour (843- 847 AD)
Harthama Ibn al-Nadr al-Gabali (848- 849 AD)
Hatim Ibn Harthama Ibn al-Nadr (849-849 AD)
Ali Ibn Yahia al-Armani (849-850 AD)
Isshac Ibn Yahia Ibn Mo’az, (850-850 AD)
Khout Abdul Wahid Ibn Yahia (851-851 AD)
Anbassa Ibnn Isshac al-Dabbi (852-856 AD)   Non-Abbasid Rulers Yazid Ibn Abdullah al-Tourki (856-867 AD)
Mozahim Ibn Khaqan (867- 868 AD)
Ahmed Ibn Mozahim Ibn Khaqan (868-868 AD)
Azgour al-Torki (868-868 AD) Tulunids Ahmad B. Tulan (Ibn Tulan)(868-884 AD)
Khumarawayh B. Ahmad (884-896 AD)
Abu al-Assaker Gaysh Ibn Khmaraweih Ahmed Ibn Tulan (896-896 AD)
Haroun Ibn Khmaraweih Ibn Ahmed Ibn Tulan (896-904 AD)
Sheiban Ahmed Ibn Tulan (Abu al-Manaquib) (904-904 AD) Abbasid Rulers (Note: Some rulers such as Abu Mansour Tekin ruled more than once) Eissa al-Noushari (905-910 AD)
Abu Mansour Tekin (910-915 AD)
Zaka Al-A’war (915-919 AD)
Abu Mansour Tekin (920-921 AD)
Hilal Ibn Badr (921- 923 AD)
Ahmed Ibn Keghlegh (923-924 AD)
Abu al-Mansour Tekin(924-933 AD)   Fatimid Rulers Gawhar El-Sakali (969-973AD)
Al-Mezz Leideinallah (973-975AD)
Al-Aziz Leideinallah (975-996AD)
Al-Hakim Biamrallah (997-1020AD)
Al-Zahir Lazazdinallah ( 1020-1094AD)
Al-Mustansir Biallah ( 1035-1094AD)
Al-Mustali Biallah (1094-1101AD)
Al-Amir Biahkamallah (1101-1130AD)
Al-Hafiz Ledeinallah (1130-1149AD)
Al-Zafir Biamrallah (1149-1154AD)
Al-Faiz Binasrallah (1154-1160AD)
Al-Adid Leideinallah (1160-1171AD)
Ayubbide rulers (Second Ayubbide Period)
Saladin (Salah al-Din Yusuf Ibn Ayyub) (1174-1192AD) Aziz Emad Eddin (1192-1198AD)
Mansour Nasser Eddin (1198-1200AD)
Adel Seif Eddin (1200-1218AD)
Kamil Nasser Eddin (1218-1238AD)
Seif Eddin Abu Bakr (1238-1240AD)
Salih Nigm Eddin (1240-1249AD)
Turanshah (1250AD)
Queen Shajarat El-Dur (1250AD)
Bahari Mamlukes Sultan Ezz Eddin Aybak (1250-1257)
Sultan Nur Eddin ben Aybak (1257-1259)
Sultan Muzafar Seif Eddin Qutuz (1259-1260)
Sultan Zahir Rukn Eddin Baybars (1260-1277)
Sultan Said Nasser Eddin Baraka (1277-1279)
Sultan Adel Badr Eddin Salamish (1279)
Sultan Mansour Seif Eddin Qalawoon (1279-1290)
Sultan Ashraf Salah Eddin Khalil (1290-1293)
Sultan Nasser Mohamed Ben Qalawoon (first time) (1293-1294)
Sultan Adel Zeen Eddin Katubgha (1294-1296)
Sultan Mansour Hossam Eddin Lagin (1296-1298)
Sultan Nasser Mohamed Ben Qalawoon (second time) (1298-1309)
Sultan Muzafar Rukn Eddin Bybars (1309)
Sultan Nasser Mohamed Ben Qalawoon (third time) (1309-1340)
Sultan Mansour Seif Eddin Ben Mohamed (1340-1341)
Sultan Ashraf Alladin Ben Mohamed (1341-1342)
Sultan Nasser Shahab El-Dein Ben Mohamed (1342)
Sultan Saleh Emad Eddin Ben Mohamed (1342-1345)
Sultan Kamil Seif Eddin Ben Mohamed (1345-1346)
Sultan Muzafar Zein Eddin Ben Mohamed (1346-1347)
Sultan Nasser Hassan Ben Mohamed (first time)(1347-1351)
Sultan Salah Eddin Saleh Ben Mohamed (1351-1354)
Sultan Nasser Hassan Ben Mohamed (second time) (1354-1361)
Sultan Salah Eddin Mohamed Ben Hagi (1361-1363)
Sultan Ashraf Zeen Eddin Ben Hassan (1363-1376)
Sultan Mansour Aladin Ben Shaban (1376-1381)
Sultan Salih Zeen Edin Hagi (1381-1382)    
  Circassian (Burgi) Mamlukes Sultan Zaher Barqooq (1382-1399)
Sultan Farag Ben Barqooq (first time) (1399-1405)
Sultan Abd El-Aziz Ben Barqooq (1405)
Sultan Farag Ben Barqooq (second time) (1405-1412)
Sultan Muyaid Sheikh (1412-1421)
Sultan Ahmed Ben Muyaid (1421)
Sultan Zaher Tatar (1421)
Sultan Nasser Mohamed Ben Tatar (1421)
Sultan Ashraf Barsbay (1422-1438)
Sultan Aziz Gamal Ben Barsabay (1438)
Sultan Zaher Gaqmaq (1438-1453)
Sultan Mansour Osman Ben Gaqmaq (1453)
Sultan Ashraf Inal (1453-1460)
Sultan Muayaid Ahmed Ben Inal (1460)
Sultan Zaher Khoshkadam (1461-1467)
Sultan Seif Eddin Yalbai (1467)
Sultan Zaher Tamarbagha (1467)
Sultan Khair Bey (1467)
Sultan Ashraf Qaitbay (1468-1496)
Sultan Ashraf Mohamed Ben Qaitbay (first time)(1496-1497)
Sultan Qansuh Khumsamaah (1497)
Sultan Ashraf Mohamed Ben Qaitbay (second time)(1497-1498)
Sultan Qansuh Ashrafi (1498-1500)
Sultan Ganblat (1500-1501)
Sultan Adel Tumanbay I (1501)
Sultan Ashraf Qansuh Ghori (1501-1516)
Sultan Tumanbay II (1517)   Ottoman Rulers Khayer Pasha (1517-22)
Moustafa Pasha (1522-23)
Kouzlagah Pasha (1523)
Ahmed Pasha (1523)
Ibrahim Pasha (1524)
Suliman Pasha (1524-34)
Khissru Pasha (1524-36)
Suliman Pasha (second time) (1536-38)
Daoud Pasha (1538-49)
Moustafa Pasha (1549)
Ali Pasha (1549-54)
Mohamed Pasha (1554-56)
Iskander Pasha (1556-59)
Ali Pasha (1559-1560)
Mustafa Pasha (1560-63)
Ali Pasha (1563-1566)
Mohamed Pasha (1566-67)
Sanan Pasha (first time)(1567-68)
Garkas Pasha (1568-71)
Sanan Pasha (second time)(1571-73)
Hussein Pasha (1573-74)
Massih Pasha (1575-80)
Hassan Pasha (1580-83)
Ibrahim Pasha (1583-85)
Sanan Pasha (1585-87)
Ouis Pasha (1587-91)
Hafiz Pasha (1591-95)
Mohamed Pasha (1595-96)
Mohamed Pasha El-Sharif (1596-98)
Khedr Pasha (1598-1601)
Ali Pasha (1601-3)
Ibrahim Pasha (1603-4)
Mohamed Pasha (1604-5)
Hassan Pasha (1605-7)
Mohamed Pasha Moamar (1607-11)
Mohamed Pasha Sadafi (1611-15)
Ahmed Pasha (1615-18)
Moustafa Pasha (1618-19)
Gaafar Pasha (1619)
Moustafa Pasha Hamidi (1619-20)
Hussein Pasha (1620-22)
Mohamed Pasha (1622)
Ibrahim Pasha (1622-23)
Moustafa Pasha Qurah (1623)
Ali Pasha (1623)
Moustafa Pasha (1624-25)
Bairam Pasha (1626-28)
Mohamed Pasha (1628-30)
Moussa Pasha (1630)
Khalil Pasha (1631-32)
Bekeirgi Pasha (1632-35)
Hussein Pasha (1635-37)
Mohamed Pasha Gawan (1637-40)
Moustafa Pasha (1640-42)
Mansour Pasha (1642-44)
Ayub Pasha (1644-46)
Haydar Pasha (1646-7)
Moustafa Pasha Sanari (1647)
Mohamed Pasha (1647-49)
Ahmed Pasha (1649-50)
Abd El-Rahman Pasha (1650-52)
Khasky Pasha (1652-56)
Moustafa Pasha (1656-57)
Mohamed Pasha Zada (1657-60)
Moustafa Pasha (1660-61)
Ibrahim Pasha (1661-64)
Omar Pasha (1664-67)
Ibrahim Pasha Sufi (1667-68)
Qurah Qash Pasha (1668-69)
Katkhuda Pasha (1669-73)
Hussein Pasha (1673-75)
Ahmed Pasha (1675-76)
Abd El-Rahman Pasha (1676-80)
Osman Pasha (1680-83)
Hamza Pasha (1683-87)
Katkhuda Hassan Pasha (1687)
Hassan Pasha (1687-89)
Ahmed Pasha (1689-91)
Ali Pasha (1691-95)
Ismail Pasha (1695-97)
Hussein Pasha (1697-99)
Qurah Pasha (1699-1704)
Suliman Pasha (1704)
Mohamed Pasha (1704-06)
Muslim Pasha (1706-07)
Hassan Pasha (second time)(1707-09)
Ibrahim Pasha (1709-10)
Khalil Pasha (1710)
Wali Pasha (1711-14)
Eibedi Pasha (1714-16)
Ali Pasha (1716-20)
Ragab Pasha (1720-21)
Mohamed Pasha (1721-25)
Ali Pasha (1725)
Mohamed Pasha (second time)(1726-27)
Abu Bakr Pasha (1727-29)
Kaburli Pasha (1729-33)
Mohamed Pasha (1733)
Osman Pasha (1733-34)
Abu Bakr Pasha (second time)(1734-36)
Suliman Pasha (1739-40)
Ali Pasha (1740-41)
Yehia Pasha (1741-43)
Mohamed Pasha (1743-44)
Mohamed Ragheb Pasha (1744-48)
Ahmed Pasha (1748-1750)
Abdallah Pasha (1750-52)
Mohamed Amin Pasha (1752)
Moustafa Pasha (1752-55)
Ali Hakim Pasha (1755-57)
Mohamed Said Pasha (1757)
Moustafa Pasha (1757-60)
Ahmed Pasha (1760-61)
Bakir Pasha (1761-62)
Hassan Pasha (1762-65)
Hamza Pasha (1765-67)
Mohamed Raqim Pasha (1767-68)
Mohamed Orphalli (1768)
Mohamed Abu El-Dahab (1773)
Khalil Pasha (1774)
Moustafa Pasha (1774-75)
Ibrahim Pasha (1775-76)
Mohamed Ezzat Pasha (1776-78)
Ra’ef Pasha (1778-79)
Ibrahim Pasha (1779)
Ismail Pasha (1779-81)
Mohamed Yakin Pasha (1781-82)
Sharif Pasha (1782-83)
Mohamed Salahdar (1783-84)
Sharif Mohamed Pasha (1784-86)
Ebeidi Pasha (1786-89)
Ismail Pasha Tunsi (1789-91)
Mohamed Pasha (1791-94)
Salih Pasha (1794-96)
Sayyid Pasha (1796)

Oghuz Turks – From Wikipedia.

  Comment – why this Albino source fails to include the residents of Arabia, Egypt, Lebanon, Israel (The modern Albinos calling themselves Jews are Khazar Turks), Palestine, Jordan, etc. as Turks, is unknown and incorrect.

The Turk Ottoman Empire – 1299 A.D. to November 1, 1922 A.D.

Countries once ruled by the Ottoman Empire:

Albania, Algeria, Arabia, Armenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Egypt, Eritrea, Greece, Hungary, Iraq, Kosovo, Libya, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Syria, Tunisia, Ukraine, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan.

Turks Rule Black Lands!   In these pages, we have made every effort to clearly say, and prove, that the White, and White-like, rulers and ruling elite in the former lands of Black civilizations, are not who they claim to be. Specifically; those of Egypt are NOT Egyptians, those of North Africa are NOT Berbers, those of Arabia are NOT Arabs, those of Palestine are NOT Hebrews, those of Lebanon are NOT Phoenicians, those of Iraq are NOT Mesopotamian’s, those of Iran are NOT Persians or Elamites, those of Turkey are NOT Anatolians – THEY ARE ALL CENTRAL ASIAN TURKS!
      That said with the understanding that in earlier times, Greeks and Romans settled in these areas: and in North Africa, they were followed by Alan’s, Vandals, and Goths. And also in the 19th. century, French and Italians invaded, and settled in North Africa. And with the understanding that when the Turks of the Ottoman Empire, relinquished hegemony over those lands after WW I, they and the European powers, merely handed control over to local Turk elites. But understanding that our say-so, and proofs, may be insufficient for some: We quote the eminent François Auguste Ferdinand Mariette (1821 – 1881) French scholar, Archaeologist, Egyptologist, and the founder of the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. We quote from his book: “OUTLINES OF ANCIENT EGYPTIAN HISTORY” TRANSLATED AND EDITED, WITH NOTES, BY MARY BRODRICK
With, an Introductory Note by William C. Winslow, D.D., D.C.L.
LL.D., Vice-President of the Egypt Exploration Fund for the United States CHARLES SCRIBNER’S SONS, NEW YORK, 1892 Page 28 Click here for link to Online Book Here he is discussing the origins of the Hyksos: Quote: “How often do we see in Eastern monarchies and even in European states a difference of origin between the ruling class, to which the royal family belongs, and the mass of the people! We need not leave Western Asia and Egypt; we find there Turks ruling over nations to the race of which they do not belong, although they have adopted their religion. In the same way as the Turks of Baghdad, who are Finns, now reign over Semites, Turanian kings may have led into Egypt and governed a population of mixed origin where the Semitic element was prevalent. If we consider the mixing up of races which took place in Mesopotamia in remote ages, the invasions which the country had to suffer, the repeated conflicts of which it was the theatre, there is nothing extraordinary that populations coming out of this land should have presented a variety of races and origins.”   How grotesque then, that the Turk, Zahi Hawass, the Vice Minister of Culture in Egypt: makes pronouncements about the non-Black nature of ancient Egyptians. When he does so, only to hide the true nature of his own people, and the illegitimacy of their presence in, and rule over Egypt.

The Deadliest Disaster at Sea Killed Thousands, Yet Its Story Is Little-Known. Why?

In the final months of World War II, German citizens and soldiers fleeing the Soviet army died when the “Wilhelm Gustloff” sank. September 28th 2020

Smithsonian Magazine

  • Francine Uenuma


The Hospital Ship “Wilhelm Gustloff” docked in Danzig (modern-day Gdańsk, Poland) in September 1939. Photo from Wikimedia Commons / Bundesarchiv, Bild 183-H27992 / Sönnke, Hans / CC-BY-SA 3.0.

By the time the Soviet Union advanced on Germany’s eastern front in January of 1945, it was clear the advantage in World War II was with the Allies. The fall of the Third Reich was by this point inevitable; Berlin would succumb within months. Among the German populace, stories of rape and murder by vengeful Soviet forces inspired dread; the specter of relentless punishment pushed many living in the Red Army’s path to abandon their homes and make a bid for safety.

The province of East Prussia, soon to be partitioned between the Soviet Union and Poland, bore witness to what the Germans called Operation Hannibal, a massive evacuation effort to ferry civilians, soldiers and equipment back to safety via the Baltic Sea. German civilians seeking an escape from the advancing Soviets converged on the port city of Gotenhafen (now Gdynia, Poland), where the former luxury ocean liner Wilhelm Gustloff was docked. The new arrivals overwhelmed the city, but there was no turning them back. If they could get to the dock and if they could get on board, the Gustloff offered them a voyage away from besieged East Prussia.

“They said to have a ticket to the Gustloff is half of your salvation,” ship passenger Heinz Schön recalled in an episode of the early 2000s Discovery Channel series “Unsolved History.” “It was Noah’s Ark.”

The problem, however, was that the Soviet navy lay in wait for any transports that crossed their path and sank the Gustloff 75 years ago in what is likely the greatest maritime disaster in history. The death toll from its sinking numbered in the thousands, some put it as high as 9,000, far eclipsing those of the Titanic and Lusitania combined.

Most of the Gustloff’s estimated 10,000 passengers—which included U-boat trainees and members of the Women’s Naval Auxiliary—would die just hours after they boarded on January 30, 1945. The stories of the survivors and the memory of the many dead were largely lost in the fog of the closing war, amid pervasive devastation and in a climate where the victors would be little inclined to feel sympathy with a populace considered Nazis—or at the very least, Nazis by association.

Before the war, the 25,000-ton Wilhelm Gustloff had been used “to give vacationing Nazis ocean-going luxury,” the Associated Press noted shortly after its 1937 christening, part of the “Strength Through Joy” movement meant to reward loyal workers. The ship was named in honor of a Nazi leader in Switzerland who had been assassinated by a Jewish medical student the year before; Adolf Hitler had told mourners at Gustloff’s funeral that he would be in “the ranks of our nation’s immortal martyrs.”

The realities of war meant that instead of a vacationing vessel the Gustloff was soon used as a barracks; it had not been maintained in seaworthy condition for years before it was hastily repurposed for mass evacuation. Despite having earlier been prohibited from fleeing, German citizens understood by the end of January that no other choice existed. The Soviet advance south of them had cut off land routes; their best chance at escape was on the Baltic Sea.

Initially German officials issued and checked for tickets, but in the chaos and panic, the cold, exhausted, hungry and increasingly desperate pressed on board the ship and crammed into any available space. Without a reliable passenger manifest, the exact number of people onboard during the sinking will never be known, but what is beyond doubt is that when this vessel—built for less than 2,000 people—pushed off at midday on the 30th of January, it was many times over its intended capacity.

Early on, the ship’s senior officers faced a series of undesirable trade-offs. Float through the mine-laden shallower waters, or the submarine-infested deeper waters? Snow, sleet and wind conspired to challenge the crew and sicken the already beleaguered passengers. Captain Paul Vollrath, who served as senior second officer, later wrote in his account in Sea Breezes magazine that adequate escort ships were simply not available “in spite of a submarine warning having been circulated and being imminent in the very area we were to pass through.” After dark, to Vollrath’s dismay, the ship’s navigation lights were turned on—increasing visibility but making the massive ship a beacon for lurking enemy submarines.

Later that evening, as the Gustloff pushed into the sea and westward toward relative safety in the German city of Kiel, Hitler delivered what would be his last radio address and commanded the nation “to gird themselves with a yet greater, harder spirit of resistance,” sparing none: “I expect all women and girls to continue supporting this struggle with utmost fanaticism.” His futile exhortations were carried on the airwaves—and broadcast on the Gustloff itself—12 years to the day of when he formally assumed power on January 30, 1933.

Soon the nearby Soviet submarine S-13, under the command of Alexander Marinesko, who was in a tenuous position with his own chain of command after his mission was delayed by his land-based alcohol consumption habits, spotted the large, illuminated ship. It presented an easy target for a commander who could use a boost to his reputation. “He thought he would be a real hero for doing it,” says Cathryn J. Prince, author of Death in the Baltic: The World War II Sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff.

Shortly after 9 p.m., the S-13 unleashed three torpedoes, each inscribed with messages conveying the Soviets’ desire for revenge for the suffering inflicted on the Soviet populace by Nazi forces earlier in the war. These explosions impacted crew living quarters, the swimming pool area that housed members of the Women’s Naval Auxiliary, and finally the engine room and lower decks, dealing the ship its fatal blows and trapping many occupants with no means of escape.

The Gustloff was soon the scene of a mad scramble for survival. Even for those who could get off the mortally wounded ship and seek safety in the open water, the sheer number of passengers far exceeded the capacity of the life rafts. Survivor Horst Woit, who was just 10 years old, saw people—many of them children—trampled to death in an effort to get up the stairs and on to an available lifeboat (the ship was tilted toward the port side, so none of the lifeboats on the starboard side were accessible). After cutting the ropes with a knife he had taken from his uncle’s uniform, Woit was one of the lucky few on a boat moving away from the Gustloff. “A lot of the people jumped. And then they all tried to get on to the lifeboat and of course they pull you over and they get hit in the head with a paddle, and they get hit on the hands,” Woit told BBC Witness. “[It was] just gruesome, just awful. Most of them died.”

Mere feet separated the spared and the doomed. “Perhaps the decision not to take any more people and leave them to their fate was the hardest I ever had to make,” Vollrath wrote. “Here was comparative safety inside the boat, on the other side certain death.”

For those who remained on deck, it was becoming apparent that death in the freezing water was imminent. Schön, who ultimately devoted years to studying the shipwreck he had survived, later recounted in a documentary on the National Geographic Channel the agonizing decision of a father hanging off the listing ship—still wearing his swastika arm band—to shoot his wife and children. He ran out of bullets when he put the gun to his own head. “And then he let go and slide after his dead wife and his children across the icy, snow-covered deck, and over the side,” Schön recalled.

As German rescue boats summoned by the Gustloff’s crew approached to pick up survivors, they faced the same dilemma as those in lifeboats: who to pick up, and when to stop. They, too, were at risk from the S-13. Torpedo boat commander Robert Hering, aboard the T-36, had to make the decision to leave many more behind when his boat was at full capacity. He then had to take evasive maneuvers to avoid suffering the same fate as the Gustloff.

Just over an hour after the S-13’s torpedoes hit, the Gustloff sunk into the sea.

By the next morning, the waters surrounding the Gustloff were filled with bodies, many of them those of children whose lifejackets caused them to float upside down. Only one known survivor emerged from the floating graveyard—an infant wrapped tightly in blankets aboard a lifeboat, surrounded by deceased passengers. (The officer who found the infant would adopt and raise the boy). Of the passengers who had boarded the previous day a mere fraction—roughly 1,000—had survived.

Despite the magnitude of the tragedy, in the frenzied closing months of the war it would receive little attention. This may be partially attributed to the sheer pace and staggering death tolls happening across the European theater. Yet neither side—a Nazi Germany near defeat, nor a Soviet Union on its way to brutal victory—had an incentive to widely broadcast the deaths of so many citizens. It would be weeks before word of the Gustloff reached the United States, and then only a few short wire stories appeared citing snippets from Finnish radio broadcasts.

Furthermore, the Gustloff, though its toll is considered the highest, was not the only ship to go down in the Baltic during Operation Hannibal. Weeks later, the General von Steuben was also sunk by Marinesko (the credit he sought was slow in coming—his reputation didn’t recover in his lifetime, but he would be posthumously celebrated for his wartime actions.) In the spring, the sinking of the Goya would add another 7,000 to the Baltic toll; the Cap Arcona was sunk by British forces with 4,500 concentration camp prisoners on board.

In context, the Gustloff was another tragedy in a war full of losses. By then, “there was a stigma about discussing any sort of German suffering during the war after everything the Nazis did to the rest of Europe,” Edward Petruskevich, curator of the online Wilhelm Gustloff Museum, writes in an e-mail. “The Gustloff was just another casualty of war along with the countless other large ships sunk on the German side.”

Even if the details of the Gustloff or other German ships had been more widely or immediately known, considering the reigning public sentiment in the United States and other Allied countries it may not have elicited much sympathy. After years of total war, the fall of the Third Reich meant that German civilians also found themselves on the other side of a Manichean divide.

“I think there was that inability to look at the humanity of people who were the foe,” says Prince.

But whatever category those Wilhelm Gustloff victims fit into—U-boat trainees, Women’s Naval Auxiliary Members, Hitler Youth, reluctant conscripts, German civilians, mothers and children—they were part of a maritime tragedy that has yet to be rivaled in scale. In little over an hour, Vollrath wrote, the Gustloff had “dragged love, hope, and wishes down to the bottom of the sea.” Smithsonian Magazine

More from Smithsonian Magazine

The Invention That Won World War II

Patented in 1944, the Higgins boat gave the Allies the advantage in amphibious assaults.

Smithsonian Magazine

  • David Kindy


Photo by Chief Photographer’s Mate Robert F. Sargent, U.S. Coast Guard / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain.

Thousands of flat-bottomed boats plowed through rough seas under cold gray skies. The smell of diesel fumes and vomit was overwhelming as the small vessels lurched toward the beaches. Waves slapped hard against the plywood hulls while bullets pinged off the flat steel bows.

Frightened men in uniform hunkered down beneath the gunwales to avoid the continuous enemy fire. Suddenly, they heard the sound of the keels grinding against sand and stone. Heavy iron ramps dropped into the surf and the men surged forward into the cold water toward an uncertain fate.

It was 6:28 a.m. on June 6, 1944, and the first LCVPs – Landing Craft, Vehicle and Personnel – had just come ashore on Utah Beach at Normandy. D-Day and the Allied invasion of Europe had commenced.

Less than four months earlier, the patent was issued for those very boats. Andrew Jackson Higgins had filed his idea with the U.S. Patent Office on December 8, 1941 – the day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Now these 36-foot LCVPs – also known as Higgins boats – were being manufactured in the thousands to help American soldiers, marines and seamen attack the enemy through amphibious assaults.

Higgins’ creation had a dramatic impact on the outcome of the Normandy landings 75 years ago, as well as many other naval operations in World War II. The vessel’s unique design coupled with the inventor’s dogged determination to succeed may very well have swung the balance of victory to within grasp of the Allies. At least, that’s what President Dwight D. Eisenhower believed. “Andrew Higgins is the man who won the war for us,” he told author Stephen Ambrose in a 1964 interview. Screenshot_2020-07-31 USA102341866 - 1 pdf.png

Andrew Higgins’ “Lighter for Mechanized Equipment,” patented February 15, 1944. (U.S. Patent 2,341,866)

“His genius was problem-solving,” says Joshua Schick, a curator at the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, which opened a D-Day exhibit in 2019 featuring a full-scale recreation of a Higgins boat. “Higgins applied it to everything in his life: politics, dealing with unions, acquiring workers, producing fantastical things or huge amounts of things. That was his essence.”

Higgins, a Nebraska native who established himself as a successful lumber businessman in New Orleans, began building boats in the 1930s. He concentrated on flat-bottomed vessels to meet the needs of his customers, who plied the shallow waters in and around the Mississippi River delta. He constantly tinkered with the concept as he sought to improve his boats to better match the ideal in his own mind of what these boats should be. DDayMuseumHigginsPA22-21_Sept07.jpg

A full-scale recreation of a Higgins Boat on display at the National WWII Museum, New Orleans. Infrogmation of New Orleans / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA.

During the Prohibition era, Higgins had a contract with the U.S. Coast Guard to build fast boats for chasing after rum runners. There are rumors that he then went to the rum runners and offered to sell them even faster boats. Schick doesn’t come right out and confirm the stories, but he doesn’t deny them either.

“That stuff is always fun to smile and chuckle about, but no one ever keeps a record saying that’s what they did,” he diplomatically states.

Higgins’ innovative spirit enabled a series of breakthroughs that led to the eventual design that became his namesake boat. First was the spoonbill bow that curled up near the ramp, forcing water underneath and enabling the craft to push up on to the shore and then back away after offloading. A ridge was later added to the keel, which improved stability. Then, a V-shaped keel was created and that allowed the boat to ride higher in the water.

“There was no task Higgins couldn’t do,” Schick says. “He would find a way to do something, then find a way to do it better.”

Higgins started making landing craft for the Navy when World War II began. He built a 30-footer, the Landing Craft Personnel (LCP), based on government specifications but he insisted a larger boat would perform better. The Navy relented and he came up with a 36-foot version, the Landing Craft Personnel Large (LCPL), that would become the standard for the rest of the war.

The Marines weren’t completely satisfied with this boat, though. The design required personnel and equipment to be offloaded by going over the side. In 1942, the Marines requested a ramp be added to the front of the vessel for faster egress.

“Higgins takes the LCPL, cuts the bow off, puts a ramp on it and then it becomes the LCVP, which becomes the famous Higgins Boat,” Schick says.

That landing craft, often referred to as “the boat that won World War II,” could quickly carry up to 36 men from transport ships to the beaches. It also could haul a Willys Jeep, small truck or other equipment with fewer troops. Higgins’ earlier modifications along with an ingenious protected propeller system built into the hull enabled the boats to maneuver in only 10 inches of water.

This version became the basis for a variety of designs and different configurations during World War II. LCA (Landing Craft Assault), LCM (Landing Craft Mechanized), LCU (Landing Craft Utility), LCT (Landing Craft Tank) and other models followed the same fundamental style, all built by Higgins or under license with his company, Higgins Industries. Higgins was named on 18 patents, most of which were for his boats or different design adaptations to the vessels.

At the height of World War II, Higgins Industries was the largest employer in the New Orleans area. More than 20,000 whites, blacks, women, elderly and handicapped people worked at seven plants in one of the first modern integrated workplaces in America. They produced a variety of landing craft in different shapes and sizes, PT boats, supply vessels and other specialized boats for the war effort.

Higgins developed a reputation for being able to do the impossible. Once, the Navy asked him if he could come up with plans for a new boat design in three days. “Hell,” he replied. “I can build the boat in three days.” And that is exactly what he did.

“The man was all about efficiency and getting things done,” Schick says. “The Navy began to realize that if there was an impossible task, just give it to Higgins and he’ll do it.”

The secret to Higgins success may have been his personality. He was driven to succeed and never let barriers slow him down. He often bulled his way through or over bureaucratic quagmires, labor difficulties, material shortages and negative-thinking people with a brusk attitude and a few salty words.

“As long as Higgins was the one in charge and didn’t have to rely on other people, he could bust through any obstacle that came in his way,” Schick says. “That attitude of determination and hard work helped him solve just about any issue.”

The Higgins Boat saw action in many amphibious landings throughout World War II. In addition to Normandy, they were used in Sicily, Anzio, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Saipan, Okinawa, Peleliu and countless other beaches in the European and Pacific theaters of operation.

More than 20,000 of the Higgins-designed landing craft were made from 1942 to 1945, but fewer than 20 remain today. To commemorate D-Day, one of the surviving Higgins boats is on display, through July 27, in the gardens outside of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office headquarters and National Inventors Hall of Fame Museum in Alexandria, Virginia.

Their legacy cannot be understated. They changed the course of the war and provided the Allies with an ability to strike anywhere with speed and effectiveness – all because of the incredible pluck of the inventor, who was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame this year.

“Higgins was a man ahead of his time,” Schick says. “He had attitude and determination. He knew how to lead and organize. He surrounded himself with smart people and knew how to get the most out of them. He was a strong-minded man.” Smithsonian Magazine

More from Smithsonian Magazine

This post originally appeared on Smithsonian Magazine and was published June 3, 2019.

Comment It makes me sick how comfortable upper middle class media women, female public servants and brainwashed ‘uni’ girls arrogantly and pompously talk about privilged white males.

I know, having taught and lectured in history – researching and writing books – that what is taught is a rewrite , and ant white propaganda. Such prejudices , and false consciousness raising -are deemed acceptable in the modern police state. R J Cook

The Forgotten Story of the American Troops Who Got Caught Up in the Russian Civil War

Even after the armistice was signed ending World War I, the doughboys clashed with Russian forces 100 years ago.

Smithsonian Magazine

  • Erick Trickey


Allied troops in Vladivostok, Russia, in July 1918. Photo from the Hulton Archive / Getty Images.

It was 45 degrees below zero, and Lieutenant Harry Mead’s platoon was much too far from home. Just outside the Russian village of Ust Padenga, 500 miles north of Moscow, the American soldiers crouched inside two blockhouses and trenches cut into permafrost. It was before dawn on January 19, 1919.

Through their field glasses, lookouts gazed south into the darkness. Beyond the platoon’s position, flares and rockets flashed, and shadowy figures moved through tiny villages—Bolshevik soldiers from Russia’s Red Army, hoping to push the American invaders 200 miles north, all the way back to the frozen White Sea.

The first artillery shell flew at the Americans at dawn. Mead, 29, of Detroit, awoke, dressed, and ran to his 47-man platoon’s forward position. Shells fell for an hour, then stopped. Soldiers from the Bolshevik Red Army, clad in winter-white uniforms, rose up from the snow and ravines on three sides. They advanced, firing automatic rifles and muskets at the outnumbered Americans.

“I at once realized that our position was hopeless,” Mead recalled, as quoted in James Carl Nelson’s forthcoming book, The Polar Bear Expedition: The Heroes of America’s Forgotten Invasion of Russia. “We were sweeping the enemy line with machine gun and rifle fire. As soon as one wave of the enemy was halted on one flank another was pressing in on us from the other side.”

As the Red Army neared, with bayonets fixed on their guns, Mead and his soldiers retreated. They ran through the village, from house to house, “each new dash leaving more of our comrades lying in the cold and snow, never to be seen again,” Mead said. At last, Mead made it to the next village, filled with American soldiers. Of Mead’s 47-man platoon, 25 died that day, and another 15 were injured.

For the 13,000 American troops serving in remote parts of Russia 100 years ago, the attack on Mead’s men was the worst day in one of the United States’ least-remembered military conflicts. When 1919 dawned, the U.S. forces had been in Russia for months. World War I was not yet over for the 5,000 members of the 339th U.S. Army regiment of the American Expeditionary Force deployed near the port city of Archangel, just below the Arctic Circle, nor for the 8,000 troops from the 27th and 31st regiments, who were stationed in the Pacific Ocean port of Vladivostok, 4,000 miles to the east.

They had become bit players caught up in the complex international intrigue of the Russian Civil War. Russia had begun World War I as an ally of England and France. But the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917, led by Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky, installed a communist government in Moscow and St. Petersburg that pulled Russia out of the conflict and into peace with Germany. By fall 1918, Lenin’s year-old government controlled only a part of central European Russia. Forces calling themselves the White Russians, a loose coalition of liberals, social democrats and loyalists to the assassinated czar, were fighting the Communists from the north, south, east and west.

Two months after the November 11, 1918, armistice that officially ended the war for the rest of Europe, as one million Americans in France were preparing to sail home, the U.S. troops in Russia found that their ill-defined missions had transformed into something even more obscure. Historians still debate why President Woodrow Wilson really sent troops to Russia, but they tend to agree that the two missions, burdened by Wilson’s ambiguous goals, ended in failures that foreshadowed U.S. foreign interventions in the century to come.

When Wilson sent the troops to Russia in July 1918, World War I still looked dire for the Allies. With the Russian Empire no longer engaged in the continental struggle, Germany had moved dozens of divisions to France to try to strike a final blow and end the war, and the spring 1918 German offensive had advanced to within artillery range of Paris.

Desperate to reopen an Eastern Front, Britain and France pressured Wilson to send troops to join Allied expeditions in northern Russia and far eastern Russia, and in July 1918, Wilson agreed to send 13,000 troops. The Allied Powers hoped that the White Russians might rejoin the war if they defeated the Reds.

To justify the small intervention, Wilson issued a carefully worded, diplomatically vague memo. First, the U.S. troops would guard giant Allied arms caches sent to Archangel and Vladivostok before Russia had left the war. Second, they would support the 70,000-man Czechoslovak Legion, former prisoners of war who had joined the Allied cause and were fighting the Bolsheviks in Siberia. Third, though the memo said the U.S. would avoid “intervention in [Russia’s] internal affairs,” it also said the U.S. troops would aid Russians with their own “self-government or self-defense.” That was diplomacy-speak for aiding the White Russians in the civil war.

“This was a movement basically against the Bolshevik forces,” says Doran Cart, senior curator at the National World War I Museum and Memorial in Kansas City. “[But] we couldn’t really go in and say, ‘This is for fighting the Bolsheviks.’ That would seem like we were against our previous ally in the war.”

Wilson’s stated aims were so ambiguous that the two U.S. expeditions to Russia ended up carrying out very different missions. While the troops in north Russia became embroiled in the Russian Civil War, the soldiers in Siberia engaged in an ever-shifting series of standoffs and skirmishes, including many with their supposed allies.

The U.S. soldiers in northern Russia, the U.S. Army’s 339th regiment, were chosen for the deployment because they were mostly from Michigan, so military commanders figured they could handle the war zone’s extreme cold. Their training in England included a lesson from Antarctic explorer Ernest Shackleton on surviving below-zero conditions. Landing in Archangel, just below the Arctic Circle, in September 1918, they nicknamed themselves the Polar Bear Expedition.

Under British command, many of the Polar Bears didn’t stay in Archangel to guard the Allied arms cache at all. The British goal was to reach the Russian city of Kotlas, a railroad crossing where, they hoped, they might use the railway to connect with the Czechoslovak Legion in the east. So British officer Lieutenant General Frederick Poole deployed the Polar Bears in long arcs up to 200 miles south of Archangel, along a strategic railroad and the Dvina and Vaga rivers.

But they never got to Kotlas. Instead, the Allied troops’ overextended deployment led to frequent face-to-face combat with the Bolshevik army, led by Leon Trotsky and growing in strength. One company of Americans, along with Canadian and Scottish troops, fought a bloody battle with Bolshevik forces on November 11, 1918 — Armistice Day in France.

“Events moved so fast in 1918, they made the mission moot,” says Nelson, author of The Polar Bear Expedition. “They kept these guys in isolated, naked positions well into 1919. The biggest complaint you heard from the soldiers was, ‘No one can tell us why we’re here,’ especially after the Armistice.” The Bolshevik Revolution had “dismayed” most Americans, Russia scholar Warren B. Walsh wrote in 1947, “mostly because we thought that the Bolsheviks were German agents or, at least, were playing our enemy’s game.” But with Germany’s defeat, many Americans — including many Polar Bears — questioned why U.S. troops were still at war.

While the Polar Bears played a reluctant role in the Russian Civil War, the U.S. commander in Siberia, General William Graves, did his best to keep his troops out of it. In August 1918, before Graves left the U.S., Secretary of War Newton Baker met the general to personally hand him Wilson’s memo about the mission. “Watch your step; you will be walking on eggs loaded with dynamite,” Baker warned Graves. He was right.

Graves and the AEF Siberia landed in Vladivostok that month with, as Graves later wrote, “no information as to the military, political, social, economic, or financial situation in Russia.” The Czechs, not the Bolsheviks, controlled most of Siberia, including the Trans-Siberian Railway. Graves deployed his troops to guard parts of the railway and the coal mines that powered it — the lifeline for the Czechs and White Russians fighting the Red Army.

But Russia’s quickly shifting politics complicated Graves’ mission. In November 1918, an authoritarian White Russian admiral, Alexander Kolchak, overthrew a provisional government in Siberia that the Czechs had supported. With that, and the war in Europe over, the Czechs stopped fighting the Red Army, wanting instead to return to their newly independent homeland. Now Graves was left to maintain a delicate balance: keep the Trans-Siberian Railway open to ferry secret military aid to Kolchak, without outright joining the Russian Civil War. Kolchak_decorating_troops.jpg

Alexander Kolchak decorates his troops. Photo from Wikicommons / Public Domain.

Opposition to the Russia deployments grew at home. “What is the policy of our nation toward Russia?” asked Senator Hiram Johnson, a progressive Republican from California, in a speech on December 12, 1918. “I do not know our policy, and I know no other man who knows our policy.” Johnson, a reluctant supporter of America’s entry into World War I, joined with anti-war progressive Senator Robert La Follette to build opposition to the Russia missions.

The Bolsheviks’ January 1919 offensive against American troops in north Russia — which began with the deadly attack on Mead’s platoon — attracted attention in newspapers across the nation. For seven days, the Polar Bears, outnumbered eight to one, retreated north under fire from several villages along the Vaga River. On February 9, a Chicago Tribune political cartoon depicted a giant Russian bear, blood dripping from its mouth, confronting a much smaller soldier holding the U.S. flag. “At Its Mercy,” the caption read.

On February 14, Johnson’s resolution challenging the U.S. deployment in north Russia failed by one vote in the Senate, with Vice President Thomas Marshall breaking a tie to defeat it. Days later, Secretary of War Baker announced that the Polar Bears would sail home “at the earliest possible moment that weather in the spring will permit” — once the frozen White Sea thawed and Archangel’s port reopened. Though Bolshevik attacks continued through May, the last Polar Bears left Archangel on June 15, 1919. Their nine-month campaign had cost them 235 men. “When the last battalion set sail from Archangel, not a soldier knew, no, not even vaguely, why he had fought or why he was going now, and why his comrades were left behind — so many of them beneath the wooden crosses,” wrote Lieutenant John Cudahy of the 339th regiment in his book Archangel.

But Wilson decided to keep U.S. troops in Siberia, to use the Trans-Siberian Railway to arm the White Russians and because he feared that Japan, a fellow Allied nation that had flooded eastern Siberia with 72,000 troops, wanted to take over the region and the railroad. Graves and his soldiers persevered, but they found that America’s erstwhile allies in Siberia posed the greatest danger.

Sticking to Wilson’s stated (though disingenuous) goal of non-intervention in the Russian Civil War, Graves resisted pressure from other Allies—Britain, France, Japan, and the White Russians—to arrest and fight Bolsheviks in Siberia. Wilson and Baker backed him up, but the Japanese didn’t want the U.S. troops there, and with Graves not taking their side, neither did the White Russians.

Across Siberia, Kolchak’s forces launched a reign of terror, including executions and torture. Especially brutal were Kolchak’s commanders in the far east, Cossack generals Grigori Semenov and Ivan Kalmikov. Their troops, “under the protection of Japanese troops, were roaming the country like wild animals, killing and robbing the people,” Graves wrote in his memoir. “If questions were asked about these brutal murders, the reply was that the people murdered were Bolsheviks and this explanation, apparently, satisfied the world.” Semenov, who took to harassing Americans along the Trans-Siberian Railway, commanded armored trains with names such as The Merciless, The Destroyer, and The Terrible.

Just when the Americans and the White Russian bandits seemed on the verge of open warfare, the Bolsheviks began to win the Russian Civil War. In January 1920, near defeat, Kolchak asked the Czech Legion for protection. Appalled at his crimes, the Czechs instead turned Kolchak over to the Red Army in exchange for safe passage home, and a Bolshevik firing squad executed him in February. In January 1920, the Wilson administration ordered U.S. troops out of Siberia, citing “unstable civil authority and frequent local military interference” with the railway. Graves completed the withdrawal on April 1, 1920, having lost 189 men.

Veterans of the U.S. interventions in Russia wrote angry memoirs after coming home. One Polar Bear, Lieutenant Harry Costello, titled his book, Why Did We Go To Russia? Graves, in his memoir, defended himself against charges he should’ve aggressively fought Bolsheviks in Siberia and reminded readers of White Russian atrocities. In 1929, some former soldiers of the 339th regiment returned to North Russia to recover the remains of 86 comrades. Forty-five of them are now buried in White Chapel Cemetery near Detroit, surrounding a white statue of a fierce polar bear.

Historians tend to see Wilson’s decision to send troops to Russia as one of his worst wartime decisions, and a foreshadowing of other poorly planned American interventions in foreign countries in the century since. “It didn’t really achieve anything—it was ill-conceived,” says Nelson of the Polar Bear Expedition. “The lessons were there that could’ve been applied in Vietnam and could’ve been applied in Iraq.”

Jonathan Casey, director of archives at the World War I Museum, agrees. “We didn’t have clear goals in mind politically or militarily,” he says. “We think we have an interest to protect, but it’s not really our interest to protect, or at least to make a huge effort at it. Maybe there are lessons we should’ve learned.”

Erick Trickey is a writer in Boston, covering politics, history, cities, arts, and science. He has written for POLITICO Magazine, Next City, the Boston Globe, Boston Magazine, and Cleveland Magazine.Smithsonian Magazine

More from Smithsonian Magazine

Comment Lessons will never be learned because wars are for the rich and powerful’s benefit, even if the adversaries leaders include Musliims. Muslim leaders are all about power and religious delusion for the purpose of control.

The alliance against the Bolsheviks was orchestrated by a rich elite. The Romanov’s were vile. They asked for what they got. The British Royal family did not want them living in Britain , even though the Tsar wa s first cousin to the British King. Democracy is just a word, in practice it has always has been a sham and con. War on the Bolsheviks was the first manifestation of the U.S Domino Theory that justified their war of attrition in Vietnam..

R.J Cook September 22nd 2020

Hitler’s Rise September 10th 2020

The first Me 109s had Rolls Royece Merlin Engines and the first BMWs were Austin 7s renamed ‘Dixie.’ World Wars One and Two were trade wars between two closely related nations who’s heads of State were first cousins.
Image Appledene Archivess

By Peter Ross Range August 31, 2020 12:30 PM EDT

Adolf Hitler did not have to come to power. Indeed, during his 13-year quest for leadership of Germany, he almost failed many times.

In the end, however, his astonishing success showed how demagoguery could overcome potentially career-ending challenges—and profoundly change history. A determined strongman, not taken seriously by the elites but enabled by a core of passionate supporters, could bend events his way just as his country went into free-fall. Hitler’s seemingly improbable ascent is an object lesson in the volatility of history.

While researching my new book on the radical Nazi’s rise, I was stunned at the number of times Hitler’s quest for power almost came to an end—and how close the world came, it seems, to avoiding the terror he caused. The first was in 1923, when he staged an ill-fated coup d’état that became known as the Beer Hall Putsch. It failed within 17 hours. Twenty men were killed, and Hitler missed being hit in a barrage of police bullets by only two feet. The man next to him died. Hitler threatened suicide and, in prison, attempted a hunger strike. In the end, he stood trial and was convicted of treason.

That event should have ended Hitler’s political career. But the Nazi chief was a fanatic. Convinced of his messianic mission to save Germany from imminent downfall, he wrote an autobiographical manifesto called Mein Kampf, obtained early parole from prison and refounded the Nazi movement in 1925. Hitler’s party drew true believers and grew. Yet in 1926, he faced an internal insurrection and possible party splintering. At the last minute, he quelled the challenge with a four-hour stemwinder at a closed Nazi meeting.

A year later, the Nazi Party was broke. Hitler again considered suicide, telling his new acolyte, Joseph Goebbels, that he would rather put a bullet into his head than accept bankruptcy. He was saved by a rich industrialist, Emil Kirdorf. Motivated by a four-hour Hitler monologue delivered at a Munich mansion, Kirdorf reportedly gave the Nazi Party 100,000 marks—$350,000 in today’s money.

In 1928, Hitler led his radical band into national elections—and fell flat. Preaching doom and downfall, Hitler swam against the historical tide. Germany’s economy was rebounding. The Nazis won only 2.6% of the vote, hitting rock bottom.

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Even after the Great Depression prompted a turnaround for the flailing party—by 1930, the Nazis had won 18.3% in a national election—he faced another mutiny within the party and then, in 1931, a scandal prompted by the suicide of his 23-year-old niece, Geli Raubal, who was assumed by many to be his lover. The political roller-coaster ride continued. In 1932, Hitler’s Nazis reached a peak of 37% of the parliamentary vote, but Hitler’s refusal to be part of a coalition led the party to shed two million votes in the year’s final election.

After Hitler’s top lieutenant, Gregor Strasser, dramatically defected, threatening a party break-up, the Nazi leader’s meteoric political rise seemed at an end. “It is obvious that [Hitler] is now headed downhill,” wrote a leading newspaper. “The republic has been rescued.”

Even Goebbels was devastated. “The year 1932 has been one long streak of bad luck,” he wrote. “We just have to smash it to pieces.”

But to the amazement of many, Hitler was not dead yet.

By January 1933, German politics was in a tailspin—unemployment had hit 24%, with 6 million out of work. A new government was desperately needed. After a series of clandestine meetings of behind-the-scenes political players in a posh Berlin villa, Hitler emerged as the secret choice to be appointed chancellor by President Paul von Hindenburg.

However, the secret arrangement depended on a delicately balanced, multi-party cabinet. Then, just hours before his scheduled swearing in by President Hindenburg, the Nazi leader demanded that his prospective cabinet ministers agree to new elections within six weeks—a move that would affirm the Nazis’ hold on power. It was a stunning last-second condition, yet all agreed except Alfred Hugenberg, who was to be minister of economics and agriculture. The stubborn old politician, 24 years Hitler’s senior, distrusted the noisy Nazi and did not want to give him an even freer hand.

The deal for Hitler to take power now threatened to become unraveled, yet again.

Without Hugenberg, everyone knew, there would be no cabinet, no government, no swearing-in.

As Hitler and the cabinet members entered the chancellery, where the 84-year-old Hindenburg waited for them, the president’s top aide rushed up, his pocket watch in hand. “Gentlemen, you can’t keep the president waiting any longer,” he said.

Suddenly Hugenberg, a man of the old school who revered manners, authority and age, accepted Hitler’s conditions. Hitler’s last brush with political obscurity was averted. Over the prior two decades, he had relied on luck and rhetoric to save his career time and again—but behind those factors lay, always, a larger context of German politics that enabled his rise. His speeches could head off a mutiny, but the success or failure of the German economy held more sway over the fortunes of the Nazi Party. And here, once again, was a moment when Hitler’s mania for power did not succeed alone, but instead with the help of a system that let it happen. Within 15 minutes, he had become chancellor of Germany, setting the stage for the horrors that followed.

The following day, Hugenberg told a friend: “Yesterday, I did the stupidest thing of my life. I joined forces with the greatest demagogue in world history.” Little Brown

Peter Ross Range, a former TIME correspondent, is the author of The Unfathomable Ascent: How Adolf Hitler Came to Power, available now from Little Brown and Company.

5 of the worst atrocities carried out by the British Empire

A YouGov poll found 43 per cent of Brits thought the British Empire was a good thing, while 44 per cent were proud of Britain’s history of colonialism


Queen Victoria’s Statue, Guildhall Square Portsmouth. Image Appledene Photographics/RJC

A new YouGov poll has found the British public are generally proud of the British Empire and its colonial past.

YouGov found 44 per cent were proud of Britain’s history of colonialism, with 21 per cent regretting it happened and 23 per cent holding neither view.

The same poll also found 43 per cent believed the British Empire was a good thing, 19 per cent said it was bad and 25 per cent said it was “neither”.

At its height in 1922, the British empire governed a fifth of the world’s population and a quarter of the world’s total land area.

Although the proponents of Empire say it brought various economic developments to parts of the world it controlled, critics point to massacres, famines and the use of concentration camps by the British Empire.

1. Boer concentration camps

. A memorial to war dead in Portsmouth’s Victoria Park. Portsmouth was the hub of troop embarkation for Britain’s colonial wars. The city’s Victoria Park is arrayed with monuments to dead working class servicemen and their upper crust officers.

As Gladstone complained of Imperialists and Victoria loving Disraeli, ‘All across Africa is a stain of blood.’ Queen Victoria loved Portsmouth, the Isle of Wight and Osborne House even better. She also loved her empire.
Image Appledene Photographics/RJC

Armed Afrikaners on the veldt near Ladysmith during the second Boer War, circa 1900

During the Second Boer War (1899-1902), the British rounded up around a sixth of the Boer population – mainly women and children – and detained them in camps, which were overcrowded and prone to outbreaks of disease, with scant food rations.

Of the 107,000 people interned in the camps, 27,927 Boers died, along with an unknown number of black Africans.

2. Amritsar massacre

When peaceful protesters defied a government order and demonstrated against British colonial rule in Amritsar, India, on 13 April 1919, they were blocked inside the walled Jallianwala Gardens and fired upon by Gurkhas.

The soldiers, under the orders of Brigadier Reginald Dyer, kept firing until they ran out of ammunition, killing between 379 and 1,000 protesters and injuring another 1,100 within 10 minutes.

Brigadier Dyer was later lauded a hero by the British public, who raised £26,000 for him as a thank you.

3. Partitioning of India

British lawyer and law lord Cyril Radcliffe, 1st Viscount Radcliffe (1899 – 1977) at the Colonial Office, London, July 1956

In 1947, Cyril Radcliffe was tasked with drawing the border between India and the newly created state of Pakistan over the course of a single lunch.

After Cyril Radcliffe split the subcontinent along religious lines, uprooting over 10 million people, Hindus in Pakistan and Muslims in India were forced to escape their homes as the situation quickly descended into violence.

Some estimates suggest up to one million people lost their lives in sectarian killings.

4. Mau Mau Uprising

Mau Mau suspects at one of the prison camps in 1953

Thousands of elderly Kenyans, who claim British colonial forces mistreated, raped and tortured them during the Mau Mau Uprising (1951-1960), have launched a £200m damages claim against the UK Government.

Members of the Kikuyu tribe were detained in camps, since described as “Britain’s gulags” or concentration camps, where they allege they were systematically tortured and suffered serious sexual assault.

Estimates of the deaths vary widely: historian David Anderson estimates there were 20,000, whereas Caroline Elkins believes up to 100,000 could have died.

5. Famines in India

Between 12 and 29 million Indians died of starvation while it was under the control of the British Empire, as millions of tons of wheat were exported to Britain as famine raged in India.

In 1943, up to four million Bengalis starved to death when Winston Churchill diverted food to British soldiers and countries such as Greece while a deadly famine swept through Bengal.

Talking about the Bengal famine in 1943, Churchill said: “I hate Indians. They are a beastly people with a beastly religion. The famine was their own fault for breeding like rabbits.”

War Monger Churchill, Portsmouth 1940, From ‘Portsmouth Voices’ by Robert Cook

A BRIEF HISTORY OF POLAND Posted July 14th 2020

By Tim Lambert

Dedicated to Agnieszka Jurkowska

Poland in the Middle Ages

The written history of Poland began in the 10th century. At that time Poland was ruled by a dynasty called the Piasts. A Piast named Mieszko I reigned from about 960 to 992. In 966 he became a Christian and his people followed.

A king named Boleslaw the Wrymouth (reigned 1102-1138) decided that after his death the kingdom should be divided between his sons. (Although the eldest son was to have overall control). This decision weakened Poland.

In the 12th and 13th centuries Poland prospered and town life flourished. A king named Henry the Bearded reigned from 1201 to 1238. His wife Jadwiga encouraged German merchants and craftsmen to come and live in Poland. They founded towns with German laws. Some Germans also came to farm uncultivated land in Poland.

However in 1241-42 the Mongols invaded Poland. The Poles were defeated at the battle of Legnica in April 1241 but the Mongols soon withdrew.

Another threat to Poland came from the Teutonic Knights. They were an order of fighting monks. They set out to conquer the Pagan peoples of eastern Europe and convert them by force. In 1235 they began conquering the pagan Prussians (who lived northeast of Poland). By 1283 Teutonic the Knights had conquered the Prussians. However, in 1308 they turned on Poland. They took eastern Pomerania including the town of Gdansk, which they renamed Danzig.

Yet in the early 14th century Poland became a strong and unified state. Kazimierz III, known as Kazimierz the Great (reigned 1333-1370) expanded east into Russia. He also reformed the law and administration. Furthermore, during his reign, the first university in Poland, Krakow, was founded.

Kazimierz also protected and supported the Jews. It was partly due to him that Poland came to have a large Jewish community.

The era from the 14th century to the 16th century was one of greatness for Poland. Nevertheless, the power of the king gradually weakened. The Polish nobility became more and more powerful.

Kazimierz was succeeded by his nephew Louis, the king of Hungary. Louis wanted his daughter to succeed as ruler of Poland him but to obtain the agreement of the Polish nobles, he was forced to grant them concessions. The Privilege of Koszyce (1374) made the nobles exempt from most kinds of tax. It also gave them an important role in government. In the future, no important decision could be made without their consent.

The Jagiellonians Rule Poland

In 1384 the Polish nobles finally accepted Louis’ daughter Jadwiga as Queen of Poland. They also arranged for her to marry Jagiello, Grand Duke of Lithuania and the two countries became allies. Jagiello became Wladyslaw II of Poland (reigned 1386-1434). Wladyslaw joined the Catholic church and his people followed.

In 1410 Poland and Lithuania utterly defeated the Teutonic Knights at the battle of Grunwald.

Then, in 1453 the people of Pomerania rebelled against the Teutonic Knights and appealed to the Poles for help. After 13 years of fighting the Poles took Pomerania and Gdansk.

However in the late 15th century the Polish nobles became increasingly powerful and the monarchy grew weaker. In 1505 the king agreed that no political changes would be made without the consent of the nobles.

The 16th century was an age of economic prosperity for Poland. Furthermore learning flourished in Poland. The greatest Polish scholar was Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543). In his day people believed that the Sun and the planets orbited the earth. In 1543 Copernicus published a theory that the Earth and the other planets orbit the Sun. At the time it was a revolutionary teaching.

However like the rest of Europe Poland was rocked by the reformation. Polish Protestants were divided into Lutherans and Calvinists.

However in the 1560s the Jesuits arrived in Poland. They created a network of schools and colleges across Poland and they managed to defeat the Protestants. Nevertheless the Compact of Warsaw, 1573 allowed freedom of worship in Poland.

Meanwhile in 1569 by the Union of Lublin Poland and Lithuania formed a federation with the same king and parliament but separate armies and legal codes.

When the last Jagiellonian king died in 1572 without leaving an heir the Polish monarchy became elective. The king was elected by an assembly of all the Polish nobles. Then in 1596 Warsaw became the capital of Poland instead of Krakow.

Poland in the 17th Century

The 17th century was a troubled one for Poland. At that time the Poles controlled the Ukrainian Cossacks. However in 1648 they rebelled and in 1654 the Russians joined them in a war against the Poles. In 1655 the Swedes invaded Poland and overran most of it. However the Poles rallied and the war with Sweden ended in 1660. The war with Russian ended in 1667. However the wars left Poland devastated. Apart from the material damage a large part of the Polish population was killed.

In the late 17th century Poland scored some great military successes. At that time the Turks ruled Southeast Europe and they tried to drive further into the continent. However in 1673 a Pole named Jan Sobieski was elected king. In 1683 the Turks laid siege to Vienna but Sobieski defeated them and drove them back.

However in the late 17th century Poland was severely weakened by the lack of an effective central government. A single member of the Sejm could veto any measure. Furthermore a single member could dissolve the Sejm. That meant all measures already passed by that Sejm were cancelled and they had to be re-submitted to a new Sejm. As a result government was paralyzed.

Poland in the 18th Century

In the 18th century Poland continued its political and military decline. Prussia and Russia took advantage of the lack of a strong central government to interfere in Poland. In 1697 Frederick Augustus of Saxony became king of Poland. When he died in 1733 a Russian army marched into Poland and compelled the Sejm to elect his son king. Increasingly Poland was the plaything of the great powers.

In 1764, after the Polish king died Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, intervened to have her former lover Stanislaw Poniatowski elected the new king of Poland. However, Poniatowski refused to be a Russian pawn. He and some other prominent Poles wanted reforms to strengthen the monarchy. However, the Russians would not allow it. It was in Russia’s interests to keep Poland weak and divided. There were also many conservative Polish nobles who were unwilling to surrender their privileges.

In 1767 the Russians forced Poland to accept a treaty. The treaty guaranteed the borders of Poland. It also guaranteed the rights of Orthodox Christians. (Although most Poles were Roman Catholics a small minority belonged to the Eastern Orthodox Church). It also guaranteed the rights of Polish nobles. Russia would intervene if their rights were threatened. (The noble’s rights kept Poland weak and without a strong central government so it was in Russia’s interests to protect them).

Anger at Russian interference led to a Polish uprising called the Confederacy of Bar between 1768 and 1772. However, the Russians eventually crushed the rebellion.

The great powers, Russia, Prussia and Austria then decided to help themselves to Polish territory. Prussia took Pomerania (northern Poland) cutting Poland off from the sea. Austria took Galicia. Russia took what is now eastern Belarus.

The shock of losing much of their territory galvanized the Poles into action. They reformed education and the army. They also reformed their government. The Four Years Sejm (1788-1792) created a new constitution for Poland in 1791.

However in 1793 there was a second partition. Russia and Prussia took more Polish territory. The 1791 constitution was annulled. In 1794 the Poles rebelled but they were crushed by the Prussians and Russians. Finally, in 1795 Prussia, Russia and Austria divided the last part of Poland between them. The Polish king abdicated and the Polish state ceased to exist.

In 1807 Napoleon turned some of the Polish territories into the Duchy of Warsaw, a French satellite state. In 1812 almost 100,000 Poles fought with Napoleon against Russia.

19th Century Poland

At the Congress of Vienna in 1815 the great European powers divided up the continent. Poland was divided between Prussia, Russia, and Austria. Prussia took the western and northern parts of Poland while Russia took the center and east. Austria kept Galicia.

The great powers were not willing to restore Polish independence. Instead, they created a semi-independent Poland. The Russian part of Poland was made into the Kingdom of Poland. The Tsar was the monarch but his powers were limited and the kingdom had its government and army.

However the Poles were dissatisfied and in 1830 rebellion broke out. Some Polish soldiers attempted to assassinate the Tsar’s brother and the Polish Diet (parliament) declared the Tsar deposed. However, the Russian army invaded and by September 1831 the Polish army was defeated.

Afterwards the Tsar suspended the Polish constitution and ruled by decree. The Polish army was disbanded. As a result of the repression, many Poles emigrated to France or North America.

The Poles rebelled again in 1863. The rebellion lasted for 18 months but it was eventually crushed. Afterward, the Kingdom of Poland was dissolved and the area was renamed the ‘Vistula Provinces’. Russian was made the official language of government and the Poles were forced to use it in schools – part of a policy to suppress Polish culture. On the other hand, the Tsar abolished serfdom.

The Prussians tried to suppress Polish culture in the western part of the country but they could not. Polish culture flourished in the late 19th century and the Poles formed political movements including the Nationalist League, the Christian Democrats and the Polish Socialist Party.

20th Century Poland

Poland eventually regained its freedom after the First World War. In 1916 the Germans conquered the Russian held parts of Poland. To curry favor with the Poles the Germans promised to form a Polish kingdom after the war.

Meanwhile polish General Jozef Pilsudski (1867-1935) led a Polish force in the war against the Russians. However Pilsudski fell out with the Germans and in 1917 was interned. He was released just before the Germans surrendered on 11 November 1918. Meanwhile in January 1918 US President Wilson made clear his support for an independent Poland after the war.

On 11 November 1918, the day of the German surrender the Poles took charge of their country and the German troops were expelled. On 14 November 1918 Pilsudski became provisional head of state. In January 1919 a constitutional assembly was elected in Poland. A new constitution was published in 1921.

After the war the allies decided that Poland should have access to the sea. They gave Poland a strip of land called the Polish corridor, which cut through Germany. It meant that East Prussia was cut off from the rest of Germany. Danzig (Gdansk) was made an independent city state.

In its early years Poland fought border wars. In 1919 it fought a brief war with Czechoslovakia. However a much longer war was fought against Russia in 1919-1921.

As well as wars the Polish republic faced other problems. In 1922 the President, Gabriel Narutowicz was assassinated. Then in May 1926 Pilsudski led a military coup and became dictator. Pilsudski kept the outward forms of democracy. The Sejm continued to meet and political parties were allowed to continue. However Pilsudski held real power until his death in 1935.

Meanwhile in the 1930s Poland was threatened by both Nazi Germany and Communist Russia. In 1939 the two signed a secret agreement to divide Poland between them.

Poland in the Second World War

Germany invaded Poland on 1 September 1939. The Poles fought valiantly but on 17 September the Russians invaded from the east. (The Russians and the Germans had already secretly agreed to divide Poland between them). The Polish position was hopeless but the Poles continued to fight both the Germans and the Russians. Warsaw fell on 27 September 1939 and all resistance ceased by 5 October.

Some Polish soldiers and airman escaped through Hungary and Romania to France and some Polish warships escaped to join the British navy. A Polish army was reformed in France and by the Spring of 1940, it had almost 200,000 men. (The Poles also fought in the Norwegian campaign in May 1940). After the fall of France in June 1940 Polish airmen played a major role in the Battle of Britain.

Meanwhile parts of Poland were absorbed into Germany. The rest of the German-occupied Poland was organized under a General Government. The Russian occupied parts of Poland were absorbed into the Soviet Union.

The German-Soviet occupation of Russia meant terrible suffering for the Polish people. Polish Jews were exterminated. Altogether about 3 million Polish Jews were murdered. About 3 million other Poles were killed.

Hitler hated Slavs and he claimed they were sub-human. The Nazis planned to turn the Poles into a nation of slaves who would do menial work for their German masters. Poles would be given as little education as possible. Therefore vast numbers of highly educated Poles were murdered. All Polish universities and secondary schools were closed. Furthermore, Polish industry and estates were confiscated by the Germans.

Any act of resistance, however slight, was punished by execution or by deportation to a concentration camp. Despite the tyranny, the Poles formed a powerful resistance movement. By 1943 partisans were fighting in the forests of Poland.

The Russians imposed their own tyranny in eastern Poland. Thousands of Polish officers were murdered.

When Germany invaded Russia in June 1941 the Polish government in exile in Britain, which was led by Prime Minister Sikorski, made an agreement with the Russians. On 30 June 1941, they signed a treaty in London, which ended the war between them.

Stalin promised to release Polish prisoners of war and the huge number of Poles who had been deported to Siberia. In Russia, there were almost 200,000 Polish prisoners-of-war. They were released and allowed to form a Polish army in Russia. However, in 1942 Stalin cut supplies to the Polish army fighting in Russia and they were evacuated to the Middle East.

Furthermore relations between Stalin and the Polish government in exile deteriorated over disagreements over the border between Poland and Russia. Stalin insisted that Poland’s eastern provinces should be absorbed into the Soviet Union after the war.

Matters came to a head in April 1943 after the Germans discovered the Katyn massacre. When the Russians conquered eastern Poland they murdered 4,500 Polish officers and buried them in Katyn Forest. The Russians claimed the Germans committed the massacre after they invaded eastern Poland (and Russia) in 1941. The Polish government in exile wanted the International Red Cross to investigate but Stalin refused and broke off diplomatic relations. Prime Minister Sikorski was killed on 4 July 1943 and was replaced by Stanislaw Mikolajczyk.

However Stalin was determined to impose a communist government on Poland and Polish communists were willing to co-operate with him. The Poles realized that if the Russians occupied Poland they would simply impose their will on the country. The only hope of preserving Polish independence was to stage an uprising in Warsaw before the Russians arrived. The Warsaw rising began on 1 August 1944. The Poles fought bravely but they could not win. They were forced to surrender on 2 October 1944. Warsaw was left in ruins. Stalin, of course, did nothing to help the uprising. All he had to do was stand by and wait for the Germans to win.

Meanwhile in July 1944 Polish Communists formed the Committee of National Liberation, known as the Lublin Committee. It was led by Boleslaw Beirut. On 1 January 1945, the Lublin Committee declared itself the provisional government of Poland. In February 1945 Stalin met Churchill and Roosevelt at Yalta. He promised to allow free elections in Poland. As usual, Stalin had no intention of keeping his promise. The tragedy is that Poland was not liberated after the Second World War. Instead of one type of tyranny, Nazism was replaced by another type of tyranny, Communism.

The provisional government was, of course, a puppet government controlled by Stalin. At the Potsdam Conference in July 1945, the provisional government agreed to the redrawing of Poland’s borders. The western border was moved further west and most of the Germans who lived there were expelled. The eastern border was also moved west and some territory was taken by Russia.

Communist Poland

After World War II Poland was left devastated. As well as the material damage nearly 25% of the population was killed. Furthermore Communism was imposed on the Poles. The Communists took power in stages between 1945 and 1947. At first a provisional government was formed with Communists in key positions – backed by the Soviet army. Elections were finally held in January 1947 but they were carefully rigged. As a result the Communists and Socialists won a landslide victory as the So-called Democratic Bloc.

Then in December 1948 the Socialist Party was purged of its right wing members and the rest were forced to merge with the Communists to form the Polish United Workers Party. A new constitution was introduced in 1952 and Poland became an entirely Communist country.

The Communists nationalized industry but they failed to collectivize Polish agriculture. They also failed to break the power of the Catholic Church.

In June 1956 dissatisfaction with the Communists regime in Poland led to riots in the city of Poznan. The government crushed the riots by force. However the government realized some reform was necessary.

Meanwhile in 1951 Wladyslaw Gomulka the First Secretary of the Party was deposed and imprisoned. In October 1956 he was released and the Polish Communists made him their leader – without consulting Moscow. The Russians were enraged that the Poles had dared to take independent action and they came close to invading Poland. Nevertheless Gomulka failed to carry out any fundamental reforms and Poland stagnated under his rule.

Then on 12 December 1970 the government announced massive food prices. The result was demonstrations and strikes in northern Poland especially in Gdansk. Troops shot and killed many demonstrators, which only made things worse. The demonstrations spread.

On 20 December 1970 Gomulka was forced to resign. He was replaced by Edward Gierek. He froze prices and introduced a new economic plan. Peace returned. Gierek borrowed heavily from the west. As a result living standards in Poland rose. In the early 1970s food became cheaper and consumer goods became common.

However a rise in oil prices ended the economic boom and by 1976 it was clear the loans had been squandered. Polish industry was unable to buy enough hard currency to pay back the loans.

The government introduced huge increases in the price of food. The result was more strikes. This time the government ended the strikes by force. Many strikers were imprisoned. However the Poles began to organize themselves.

In July 1980 the government announced 100% rises in the price of some foods. The result was strikes across Poland. In August 1980 the Lenin shipyards in Gdansk went on strike. Led by an electrician named Lech Walesa the workers occupied the yards. They drew up a list of demands including freedom of the press, the release of political prisoners and the right to form independent trade unions. On 31 August the Communists surrendered. They made the Gdansk agreement and accepted the workers demands.

The workers formed the Solidarity Trade Union, which soon became a mass movement. However the Communists fought back. In December 1981 General Wojciech Jaruzelski imposed martial law on Poland. Solidarity was banned and its leaders were arrested.

Jaruzelski declared a ‘state of war’. However the war between the workers and the Communists continued. The economic crisis continued. Poland’s debts grew larger and larger. Wages did not keep up with price rises. Meanwhile the workers continued to hold strikes and Solidarity went underground.

Eventually, in 1988 the Communists gave in and Jaruzelski called for a ‘courageous turnaround’. In 1989 the Communists and Solidarity held talks. The government agreed to legalize Solidarity and allow freedom of the press. The Communists also agreed that the Sejm (Polish parliament) should be partly democratically elected. The Communists would keep at least 65% of the seats in the lower house but the other 35% would be freely elected. All the seats in the upper house would be freely elected.

The elections were held on 4 June 1989. Solidarity won 35% of the seats of the lower house and 99% of the seats in the upper house. It was a humiliating defeat for the Communists. In August 1989 Tadeusz Mazowiecki became Prime Minister of Poland. The Communist tyranny was over.

A view of Torun in Poland

Modern Poland

In 1990 Lech Walesa was elected President. In October 1991 completely free elections for the Sejm were held. However the new democratic Poland inherited severe economic problems from the Communists. Nevertheless Poland underwent transition from Communism to Capitalism. Industry was privatized and today the Polish economy is growing steadily. Unemployment was high high for a time but it has fallen in recent years. In September 2018 it fell to 5.7%.

In 1997 Poland gained a new constitution. Lech Kaczynski became President of Poland in 2005. Meanwhile Poland joined NATO in 1999 and the EU in 2004.

Poland launched its first satellite, PW-Sat in 2012. Today the population of Poland is 38.5 million.

A timeline of Poland

A brief history of Gdansk

A brief history of Krakow

A brief history of Poznan

A brief history of Torun

A brief history of Warsaw

A brief history of Wroclaw


Last Revised 2019

What Do the Hohenzollerns Deserve?

A bitter public controversy has erupted over Germany’s monarchical past. The critical question is whether the Hohenzollerns had “given substantial support” to the Nazi regime.

The New York Review of Books

  • David Motadel


Adolf Hitler and ‘Crown Prince’ Wilhelm during the Day of Potsdam celebrations, Potsdam, Germany, March 21, 1933. Credit: Georg Pahl / German Federal Archive.

In the early hours of November 10, 1918, Kaiser Wilhelm II, the last German emperor of the Hohenzollern dynasty, fled by train into exile in the Netherlands. The armistice ending World War I was signed the next day. Under the Weimar Constitution of 1919, Germany’s monarchy was abolished; its aristocracy lost its privileges but was allowed to keep much of its property. After World War II, however, the Soviet authorities expropriated the possessions of the former noble families—palaces, manor houses, lands—in their occupation zone of eastern Germany, which was soon to become the German Democratic Republic. Following German reunification in 1990, some of those families sought to reclaim what they had lost. A law passed in 1994 allowed for restitution or compensation claims, though only on condition that the claimants or their ancestors had not “given substantial support” to the National Socialist or East German Communist regimes.

The Hohenzollerns were among those who demanded compensation, as well as the return of tens of thousands of priceless artworks, antiquities, rare books, and furniture now in public museums, galleries, and palaces. Among their requests is the right to reside in one of the Potsdam palaces, preferably the grand 176-room Cecilienhof, which today is a museum. Despite years of negotiations between the German state and the family, their claims remain unresolved. In the summer of 2019, as more and more details about the negotiations in the case were leaked to the German press, a bitter public controversy erupted over Germany’s monarchical past. The critical question is whether the Hohenzollerns had “given substantial support” to the Nazi regime.

To be sure, the dynasty’s history is bleak, tainted by colonial massacres, most notably the Herero and Nama genocide in German Southwest Africa in 1904–1908, as well as by its aggressive warmongering in 1914. After World War I, Wilhelm II made no secret of his deep hatred for the Weimar Republic. In 1919, in a letter to one of his former generals, the exiled emperor, whose anti-Semitism grew more and more virulent during the interwar years, blamed the Jews above all for the fall of the monarchy:

The deepest, most disgusting shame ever perpetrated by a people in history, the Germans have done onto themselves. Egged on and misled by the tribe of Juda whom they hated, who were guests among them! That was their thanks! Let no German ever forget this, nor rest until these parasites have been destroyed and exterminated from German soil! This poisonous mushroom on the German oak-tree!

“Jews and mosquitoes,” he wrote in the summer of 1927, were “a nuisance that humanity must get rid of in some way or other,” adding: “I believe the best would be gas!” After the outbreak of World War II, he enthusiastically celebrated the Wehrmacht’s victories in Poland, Scandinavia, Belgium, Holland, and France. Yet during his years of exile the aging monarch, who died in 1941, shortly before Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union, had little influence on German politics.

More relevant to a resolution of the family’s claims are the actions of the emperor’s eldest son, the self-proclaimed “crown prince” Wilhelm, who was the most senior member of the dynasty in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s and the owner of the Hohenzollern properties at the time of the Soviet expropriation. The facts, known to historians for decades, seem clear: Wilhelm, who was determined to destroy the hated Weimar Republic, backed its right-wing enemies, believing that this would pave the way for the restoration of the monarchy. And he came out in support of Hitler early. In the second round of the presidential elections in the spring of 1932—after having abandoned the idea of running himself—he endorsed Hitler rather than his opponent, the elderly president and former imperial field marshal Paul von Hindenburg, thereby legitimizing the Nazi movement among conservative and royalist segments of German society. Hitler, reportedly “with a smile,” told the British Daily Express, “I value the ex–Crown Prince’s action highly. It was an absolutely spontaneous action on his part, and by it he has publicly placed himself in line with the main body of patriotic German nationalists.”

Wilhelm also helped the Nazis on other occasions. In 1932, for example, he tried to convince Defense Minister Wilhelm Groener to lift the ban on the Nazi paramilitary groups, the SA and SS. And after Hitler was appointed chancellor on January 30, 1933, Wilhelm wasted no time ingratiating himself with Germany’s new leader. In a stream of letters to Hitler, he professed his unconditional loyalty to the regime. In 1934, for the international press, he proudly posed in front of a mirror at Cecilienhof wearing a swastika armband. Most of the other Hohenzollerns, although far less prominent, behaved similarly. Wilhelm’s younger brother August Wilhelm (“Auwi”), a high-ranking SA leader, was a committed Nazi.

One of Wilhelm’s most important services to the regime was his participation in the Day of Potsdam on March 21, 1933, a spectacle staged by the Nazis to present themselves as the heirs to a glorious Prussian past. Representing the Hohenzollern dynasty, Wilhelm, along with three of his brothers, took part in the carefully choreographed proceedings at Potsdam’s Garrison Church. The highlight of the event was a handshake between President von Hindenburg and Hitler. The Day of Potsdam symbolized the pact between the Nazi movement and the old elites, reassuring the sizable conservative parts of the population. It was the regime’s first major propaganda triumph, and it was enabled by the former royal family and its aristocratic allies.

The Hohenzollerns were by no means unrepresentative. Crucial to Hitler’s ascent to power was a coalition between the Nazis and Germany’s old conservative elites, who hoped they could use and control him for their own ends. It was they who arranged Hitler’s appointment as Reich chancellor, plotted in the backrooms of gentlemen’s clubs, in officers’ messes, and at dinners and shooting parties on grand estates. The German historian Karl Dietrich Bracher demonstrated as early as 1955, in his Die Auflösung der Weimarer Republik, that it was their actions that destroyed Weimar democracy, not an inevitable political crisis. “What is more disturbing to our peace of mind,” Hannah Arendt noted around the same time in The Origins of Totalitarianism, “is the unquestionable attraction these movements exert on the elite, and not only on the mob elements in society.” Hitler’s regime was supported by a broad spectrum of right-wing groups, including the royalist right, that were united in their hatred of liberal democracy, communism, and Jews.

The Nazis were initially eager to get backing from the monarchists. It was only after their consolidation of power that they lost interest in the former royal family. When monarchical organizations were banned in 1934, Wilhelm was forced to realize that Hitler would not help him gain more political influence. Nevertheless, the “crown prince” continued to endorse the regime’s policies. During the war, he sent telegrams to Hitler, addressed as “mein Führer,” to congratulate him on his military victories. Given this historical record, it would seem rather difficult to claim that Wilhelm did not lend the Nazis “significant support.”

Yet the current head of the Hohenzollern family, the forty-three-year-old Georg Friedrich Prinz von Preußen, the great-great-grandson of Wilhelm II, does not seem too concerned about his family’s dark past. To support his claims, he engaged Christopher Clark, Regius Professor of History at the University of Cambridge, to write an expert report on the family’s relationship with the Nazis. Clark is the author of the best-selling Kaiser Wilhelm II (2000), which depicted the emperor more sympathetically than most other major academic biographies; Iron Kingdom: The Rise and Downfall of Prussia, 1600–1947 (2006), which broke with the long-prevailing negative view of Prussia as autocratic and militaristic; and The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914 (2012), which challenged the view that Germany bore the primary responsibility for the outbreak of World War I. The books have made him a hero to the German conservative right.

In his nineteen-page report, which he wrote in 2011, Clark acknowledges that “Crown Prince” Wilhelm, “a man on the right fringes of the political spectrum,” showed support for Hitler on many occasions, and lists several examples, including his endorsement of Hitler in the 1932 election and his lobbying on behalf of the SA and SS. Yet he comes to the remarkable conclusion that Wilhelm was “one of the politically most reserved and least compromised persons” among the aristocratic Nazi collaborators. Overall, Clark contends that Wilhelm mainly acted out of personal interest, that his maneuvers to help the Nazis were largely unsuccessful, and that he was simply too marginal a figure to have been able to give “significant support” to Hitler. His report provides a clear endorsement of the Hohenzollern claims.

In the meantime, the German state also commissioned two historians to write expert reports: Peter Brandt, a specialist in Prussia and imperial Germany at the University of Hagen (and the son of Germany’s former chancellor Willy Brandt), and Stephan Malinowski, a German historian at the University of Edinburgh, who is the author of the standard work on the relationship between the German aristocracy and the Nazi movement, Vom König zum Führer (2003). Their long and detailed reports provide many more examples of “Crown Prince” Wilhelm’s support of the Nazis. Particularly fascinating are the passages on his radical ideological affinities. In the 1920s, Wilhelm was full of praise for Mussolini, writing in 1928 to his father from Rome that Fascism was “a fabulous institution”: “Socialism, Communism, Democracy and Freemasonry are eradicated, root and branch (!); a brilliant brutality has accomplished this.” Unsurprisingly, Wilhelm was particularly excited by the coexistence of monarchy and nationalist dictatorship in Fascist Italy.

The two reports also leave no doubt about the prince’s deep-seated anti-Semitism. Writing to an American friend in the spring of 1933, he justified the Nazi regime’s anti-Jewish policies, explaining that the German people had built up an “enormous anger” since the 1918 revolution, which, he alleged, had allowed the Jews to take over ministries, hospitals, courts, and universities. It was only now, as “our national circles have gained victory and seized power,” led by “the brilliant Führer Adolf Hitler,” that an “extraordinary reaction” had followed. It was inevitable that “certain cleanup efforts” would have to be made.

Brandt and Malinowski offer overwhelming evidence of Wilhelm’s pro-Nazi activities before and after 1933. They make clear that he was one of the most prominent members of the old imperial elite who put his resources in the service of National Socialism and helped make Hitler respectable among the conservative parts of the population. He welcomed the establishment of the dictatorship and defended its repressions in interviews, conversations, and letters. Both historians also emphasize that Wilhelm was anything but a marginal figure: monarchists had influence on wide segments of society, so his endorsements of the Nazi movement had considerable political impact. Malinowski concludes that there can be no doubt about Wilhelm’s support for the “creation and consolidation of the Nazi regime,” while Brandt summarizes that the prince “contributed steadily and to a considerable extent” to the rise of Hitler. The facts presented in the two reports make Clark’s argument that the “crown prince” was a marginal political figure difficult to sustain.

The Hohenzollerns, however, not prepared to give up, commissioned a fourth historian to provide an opinion: Wolfram Pyta, an eminent scholar at the University of Stuttgart, who has studied the final years of the Weimar Republic and has written a well-received biography of Hindenburg. Pyta’s report argues that Wilhelm did indeed wield significant influence but—and this is the twist—that he tried everything in his power to cleverly sabotage the Nazis and to support the traditional nationalist right. To prove this point, Pyta offers an impressively original (though not very convincing) reinterpretation of historical events: Wilhelm’s plan to run for president in 1932, he claims, was an attempt to stop Hitler. He thereby ignores Wilhelm’s intention to ally with the Nazis and offer Hitler the chancellorship if he were elected president, and that he only abandoned the plan after Hitler gave him the cold shoulder.

Wilhelm’s subsequent endorsement of Hitler’s candidacy is seen by Pyta as a shrewd maneuver to undermine the Nazis, since the “crown prince” believed that, given his own unpopularity among the working class, his public support for the Nazi Party would cost Hitler votes. This claim is both outlandish and entirely unfounded. In a similar way, Pyta explains Wilhelm’s lobbying for the lifting of the ban on the SA and SS as another cunning ploy to harm Hitler, because the reintroduction of the paramilitaries would have bankrupted the party. This, too, seems far-fetched. In fact, when the ban was eventually lifted, there were no major negative financial repercussions. The SA had its own fund-raising activites, including selling uniforms and its own brand of cigarettes; in addition, SA members had to join the Nazi Party, which benefited from collecting their membership fees.

Finally, Pyta claims that Wilhelm was crucially involved in a plan orchestrated by Chancellor Kurt von Schleicher to split the Nazi movement. Indeed, in the winter of 1932–1933, Schleicher unsuccessfully tried to forge an alliance with the wing of the Nazi Party led by Gregor Strasser to form a right-wing government without Hitler. The plan is well known, yet historical studies of the subject say nothing about Wilhelm’s alleged involvement in it, and Pyta presents no solid sources to substantiate his claim. Besides, the consequence of Schleicher’s scheme would still have been the abolition of the Weimar democracy.

Pyta’s conclusion is clear: “Crown Prince Wilhelm did not support the Nazi system.” Assessing his report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Ulrich Herbert, one of Germany’s leading scholars of Nazi Germany, wrote that the “almost desperate attempt” to portray Wilhelm as a figure who tried to block Hitler was “if anything bizarre rather than convincing.” The distinguished historian Heinrich August Winkler dismissed it in an interview with Die Zeit as a “pure apologia” reminiscent of the reactionary scholarship of the 1950s that tried to exculpate conservatives who helped Hitler to power in 1933. He also sharply criticized Clark’s claim that Wilhelm was one of the politically least compromised of the Nazis’ aristocratic helpers as “contradicted by all historical findings.”

More and more details about the Hohenzollern claims—and the expert reports themselves—have become public in recent months, and the controversy in the German press has grown more and more heated, involving almost every notable historian of modern Germany. Most agree with the reports of Malinowski and Brandt. Norbert Frei, another major expert on Nazi Germany, in an article in the Süddeutsche Zeitung, accused the Hohenzollern family of “a brute reinterpretation of history” that “distorts historical facts, blurs responsibilities, and destroys critical historical awareness.” In the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Richard J. Evans, Regius Professor of History Emeritus at Cambridge, criticized his colleagues for not reflecting more carefully before accepting offers to produce expert reports.motadel_2-032620.jpg

The reconstruction of the Berlin Palace, January 2020. The original palace—the Hohenzollerns’ main residence from 1701 to 1918—was damaged in World War II and demolished by the East German government. Its rebuilding after German reunification, David Motadel writes, is the result of ‘a new nostalgia for the country’s royal past and a neo-Prussian revival.’ Credit: Sean Gallup / Getty Images.

There seem to be few serious supporters of the Hohenzollern claims. One of them is Benjamin Hasselhorn, a theologian and historian from Würzburg, who in the Neue Zürcher Zeitung denounced the 1994 law for making “potential property claims dependent on the political views and actions of the ancestors.” (He also wrote that the anti-Semitic statements of Wilhelm II, which he trivialized as “private comments,” had to be contextualized properly.) In the same newspaper, Hans-Christof Kraus, a historian at the University of Passau, repeated Clark’s thesis about Wilhelm’s political insignificance, claiming that after 1918 the Hohenzollerns’ reputation was in tatters.

As the public debate gained momentum last fall, Clark tried to qualify his conclusion in an interview with Der Spiegel: “I stand by what I wrote at the time. But in view of the course that the case has taken, it seems to be more important today to ask about the crown prince’s willingness to collaborate than about his actual influence on events.” He claimed that rather than assessing whether Wilhelm had supported the Nazis, he had assessed whether his support had been of any use to them. At the same time, he doubled down on his insistence that it had not:

The crown prince suffered from overconfidence bordering on the delusional. If one were to list Hitler’s most important supporters, he would not be among the first 300…. Many celebrities crowded around the Nazi leaders, including industrialists, bankers, church leaders and military leaders. Were the photographs featuring the crown prince more important to the regime than others? I doubt that.

It is uncontested that others in the establishment were equally or more implicated—but this does not lessen the significance of the prince’s support.

Anxious to control the public discussion of the case, the Hohenzollerns’ lawyer, Markus Hennig, has issued lawsuits against some of the major German newspapers that have reported on it, including the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, Der Spiegel, and Die Zeit. The family has also started an aggressive legal battle against historians who contested their version of history. The first was Malinowski, not because of his expert report but because he made public statements on various details connected with it, such as public access to the family archive and the question of whether the Hohenzollerns intended to manipulate their representation in a planned museum. Other historians facing legal action for expressing opinions on the debate include the Potsdam professors Martin Sabrow and Winfried Süß and the Princeton scholar Karina Urbach. In a recent open letter to Georg Friedrich Prinz von Preußen, Sabrow, the director of the Center for Contemporary History in Potsdam, warned that these actions posed a real “threat to freedom of scholarship.”

Many Germans are bewildered by their former royal family’s demands. “This country does not owe a single coffee cup to the next-born of a luckily long-vanquished undemocratic regime, let alone art treasures or real estate,” wrote Stefan Kuzmany, a columnist for Der Spiegel. “Even the request is an insult to the Republic.” The Hohenzollern wealth, he argued, was the product of historical injustice: “The aristocracy in general, [and] the Hohenzollerns in particular, have always been a plague on the country and the people. Like all so-called noblemen, they have snatched their fortune through the oppression of the population.” As Clark noted in his interview, “There seems to be a strong animus against the nobility within parts of the German public.”

Behind the controversy is the broader question of Germany’s monarchical legacy. After German reunification in 1990, the country’s political identity was renegotiated. Communist East Germany was in ruins, its socialist story shattered. But West Germany’s political narratives also seemed out of date. In this vacuum, older conservative versions of German nationhood began to reemerge. The reunited republic experienced a new nostalgia for the country’s royal past and a neo-Prussian revival. This resulted, for example, in major reconstruction projects, most notably (and controversially) the rebuilding of the Berlin Palace in the capital, the Potsdam City Palace, and the Garrison Church. In a grand ceremony, the remains of Friedrich the Great and his father, the “soldier king” Friedrich Wilhelm I, were solemnly transferred from Hohenzollern Castle in Baden-Württemberg to Potsdam. Books glorifying Prussia suddenly found a wide audience.

All this expressed a longing for a proud German past, no matter how imaginary, and a desire to reorient the republic’s official culture of memory away from the twelve years of Nazi barbarism. Some have observed these developments with concern, fearing the emergence of a new nationalism. As early as 1995, Jürgen Habermas, in his essay “1989 in the Shadow of 1945: On the Normality of a Future Berlin Republic,” powerfully warned that a new emphasis on more positive periods of German history—new “historical punctuations,” as he put it—would diminish the importance of the collapse of civilization in 1933–1945.

The German government had planned to settle the Hohenzollerns’ case through mediation behind closed doors. Unmoved by the heated public debate of the past months, Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union—in contrast to its more reluctant Social Democratic coalition partner—seems determined to pursue a conciliatory course toward the former royal family. This became clear during a debate in the German parliament about the case earlier this year, when her party found itself agreeing with the far-right Alternative für Deutschland in supporting mediation. At the official hearing in the parliament’s cultural committee a few days later, on January 29, 2020, positions seemed to have further hardened. Whereas the Social Democrats, Greens, and Left Party called the Potsdam historian Stefanie Middendorf, Brandt, and Malinowski as historical expert witnesses, all of whom underlined once more the Hohenzollern family’s troubling historical record, the conservatives brought in Hasselhorn, who skillfully, though misleadingly, claimed that the case was highly contested among historians and that there was a lack of historical research on “Crown Prince” Wilhelm. It seems that Merkel’s party feels it would lose even more credibility if it were to change its course of the last decade. Another concern is that negotiations might lead to a better deal for the state than an unpredictable and protracted court case. Still, there is a chance that a German court will ultimately have to decide.

Postwar Germany, where the tragedies of the past are omnipresent, has experienced a series of major public historical controversies, among them the debate over Fritz Fischer’s claims in the 1960s that Germany was mainly responsible for the outbreak of World War I, the so-called Historikerstreit in the 1980s about whether the Nazis’ crimes were different in nature from those of the Soviet Union, and the argument in the 1990s over Daniel Jonah Goldhagen’s book about the responsibility of ordinary Germans for the Holocaust. These public renegotiations of the past tell us as much about contemporary German society as about history. The Hohenzollern controversy is not only about the long shadows cast by the Nazi period, but also about the place of the monarchical heritage in today’s democratic Germany.

David Motadel is Associate Professor of History at the London School of Economics and Political Science and currently a Fellow at the Berlin Institute for Advanced Study. He is the author of “Islam and Nazi Germany’s War,” which was awarded the Fraenkel Prize.

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A Mr Scott on his precision driving test. This looks like the former parade ground of Victoria Barracks now, Pembroke Park, Old Portsmouth Copyright: Other 3rd Party

15 historic photos of Victoria Barracks before it was demolished

Take a look into the past at this interesting military barracks that was demolished in 1967.

By Deborah CrokerTuesday, 12th May 2020, 4:43 pmUpdated Tuesday, 12th May 2020, 4:43 pm

The barracks were built in 1880 on the edge of Southsea and consisted of a pair of long barrack ranges, linked by arcades at either end to form a narrow quadrangle.

There was a separate Officers’ Quarters and Mess Establishment to the south-west.

The first unit to use the barracks was the 1st Battalion, the South Lancashire Regiment, and a large parade ground was built.

During the Second World War the central tower of the Officers’ Quarters was bombed and seriously damaged. After the war the buildings were used by the navy to train new recruits.

After the barracks were demolished in 1967 the site was redeveloped for homes and is now known as Pembroke Park.

MORE RETRO PHOTOS: Southsea Castle | Clarence Pier and Parade | Eastney Barracks

1. Victoria Barracks

This is a view of Divisions on Victoria Barracks parade ground in 1954. This vista is from the Duchess of Kent Barracks and we see sailors and wrens standing to attention.

Photo: The News archive

Copyright: Other 3rd PartyBuy photo

This is a view of Divisions on Victoria Barracks parade ground in 1954. This vista is from the Duchess of Kent Barracks and we see sailors and wrens standing to attention.

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War Nothing To Celebrate, a Rich Man’s Game. May 24th 2020

An Epic of Salvage: UC-5

UC-5 moored at Sheerness after capture Image Appledene Photographics/Archive

A separate article describes the horrific sinking of the hospital ship Anglia close to English south-coast in 1915. (Click here to read it). She was a victim of a submarine-laid mine, a weapon that was to prove a deadly menace during World War 1. Such mines not only inflicted direct losses it but were also effective in restricting or closing harbour approaches and shipping lanes for long periods once their presence was detected. The German submarine responsible for the Anglia was the small UC-5, a craft specially designed for minelaying. Her operational career was a short one – from late July 1915 until April 1916, a mere nine months – but in this time she was responsible for sinking a total of 29 ships, with a total gross tonnage of 36,288 tons. Few warships have ever been so cost-effective in terms of investment needed to sink a ton of shipping.

Artist’s impression of Anglia’s final plunge, November 17th 1915

The fifteen submarines of the UC class displaced 168 tons on the surface and were a mere 111-feet long. Single-shafted, with a 90-hp diesel, and a 175-hp electric motor, they were slow – 6.5 knots on the surface and 5.5 knots submerged – and this was hardly a disadvantage since it enhanced the stealth with which their operations must be conducted.  With a crew of 15, they carried no torpedoes and their purpose was to drop the twelve 39-inch diameter mines that they carried in six tubes inclined slightly off vertical. Their short range was not a disadvantage when they operated along the British coast from bases in Belgium.

Contemporary cutaway drawing of UC-5.  Note mines in inclined tubes ahead of the conning tower

UC-5 was to be the first of these German vessels to pass safely through the British defences – including minefields – that protected the Dover Straits and to reach the wider waters of the English Channel beyond. It was here that UC-5’s mines were to claim the Anglia as well as many other victims. It was however further north, on the approaches to the British base at Harwich, from which light forces operated in the Southern North Sea, that the UC-5’s luck ran out. The attraction of the area was obvious – twelve mines laid in the approaches to Harwich would have had a high likelihood of claiming a warship victim. The complication was however shallow water offshore – the Shipwash Shoal lay some twelve miles to the north-east of Harwich and it was across this that the UC-5’s commander, Oberleutant Ulrich Mohrbutte intended to make his approach. It was in the course of doing so on April 27th 1916 that the UC-5 grounded as the tide dropped.

Unable to break free, and with a clear possibility of capture, Mohrbutter ordered charts and papers to be destroyed and for scuttling charges to be put in place. He sent a radio signal to the German base at Zeebrugge to give news of his plight and this was picked up by the British. The Royal Navy destroyer Firedrake was accordingly sent to investigate, arriving in early afternoon. As she approached the stranded submarine – her own draught was shallower – the German crew were seen to be standing on the deck and holding up their hands. When Firedrake drew still nearer, the Germans jumped into the water and were soon picked up by boats dropped by the destroyer.

It was thought that the entire German crew had been rescued when one last man was seen emerging from below, shouting and waving his hands frantically, and then jumping overboard. He was picked up and shortly afterwards several explosions racked the stranded submarine, and brown smoke poured from her conning-tower. The scuttling charges had been fired. The craft settled on the shoal beneath but the mines on board – all twelve – did not explode.

UC-5 in British hands, afloat after salvage and repair

Once satisfied that no further explosions were likely, Firedrake’s Torpedo-Lieutenant Quentin Paterson and two other officers went across. Even though damaged, the UC-5 was a valuable prize, the first German U-boat to be captured virtually intact and one that was likely to reveal significant technical information. She was however sufficiently holed to make flotation at high tide and towing to Harwich impossible. Measures were accordingly put in hand to mobilise divers and salvage equipment to recover her. Before these arrived Paterson made a full examination that revealed that though ten of the mines were still secure in their tubes, two had been dropped – as part of the scuttling procedure – and now lay loose at the bottom of the tubes and resting on the sand beneath. The danger was that movement of the submarine’s hull could be enough to detonate them. All salvage efforts had therefore to be delayed until the mines were made safe.

Lieutenant Paterson himself, together with two others, one a diver, undertook this very hazardous work. The ten mines still in the tubes were disarmed by the removal of the acid detonation tubes from the contact horns but it was impossible to do this with the lower mines, which therefore remained active. It was found that the two projecting mines could not be drawn back into the tubes, nor could they be disarmed, so they were secured where they were with cables in such a way as to ensure that they could not drop further. The danger remained however of them being detonated by the hull bumping on the sand when it was time to move it.

UC-5 being transported in sections through Central Park, New York

Responsibility for the salvage was assigned to Commodore Sir Frederic William Young (1859-1927), a naval-reserve officer who in civilian life was the nation’s, and perhaps the world’s, best respected salvage expert. Working now in the open sea, in the middle of a war zone, and with the two unexploded mines a constant danger, the recovery of the UC-5 was to prove one of his greatest challenges. The UC-5 was by now sinking ever deeper into the sand as the tides washed around her. A lighter was brought alongside and the hull was lashed to it at four places with heavy cables – passing these under the hull by water-jetting must have been a terrifying ordeal for the divers who did so. The first attempt at lifting as the tide rose (and as the lighter was deballasted) ended in failure. The cables parted and the hull dropped back on the seabed, luckily without setting off the mines. The process had to start over, this time with yet heavier cables and a larger lighter to which the UC-5’s hull was secured at low water. The lighter’s side tanks nearer the submarine were pumped dry and her outer tanks were filled with water so as to act as a counterweight. This time the UC-5 was raised safely. She was towed into Harwich and placed in a floating dock in which the two projecting mines were safely removed. The entire operation had taken 27 days.

UC-5 in Central Park in 1918 – a focus for sale of War Bonds

The UC-5 was to have a strange afterlife. Examined meticulously to understand her working, she was subsequently patched up and taken to London where she was put on display – an amazing sight since submarines represented cutting-edge technology and the vast majority of the population had never seen one. When the United States entered the war a year later the submarine was cut into sections and sent to New York. She was reassembled in Central Park and there also she became an object of wonder, all the more so since it was outrage at German unrestricted submarine warfare that had drawn the United States into the conflict.

And the heroes of this epic? Paterson was awarded the DSC (Distinguished Service Cross) and his diver the CSM (Conspicuous Gallantry Medal). They were hard earned.

Hong Kong ceded to the British

Protestors, Nov 2019, backed by Britain and U.S set fire to Chinese man in Hong Kong.

During the First Opium War, China cedes the island of Hong Kong to the British with the signing of the Chuenpi Convention, an agreement seeking an end to the first Anglo-Chinese conflict.

In 1839, Britain invaded China to crush opposition to its interference in the country’s economic and political affairs. One of Britain’s first acts of the war was to occupy Hong Kong, a sparsely inhabited island off the coast of southeast China. In 1841, China ceded the island to the British, and in 1842 the Treaty of Nanking was signed, formally ending the First Opium War.

Britain’s new colony flourished as an East-West trading center and as the commercial gateway and distribution center for southern China. In 1898, Britain was granted an additional 99 years of rule over Hong Kong under the Second Convention of Peking. In September 1984, after years of negotiations, the British and the Chinese signed a formal agreement approving the 1997 turnover of the island in exchange for a Chinese pledge to preserve Hong Kong’s capitalist system. 

On July 1, 1997, Hong Kong was peaceably handed over to China in a ceremony attended by numerous Chinese and British dignitaries. The chief executive under the new Hong Kong government, Tung Chee Hwa, formulated a policy based upon the concept of “one country, two systems,” thus preserving Hong Kong’s role as a principal capitalist center in Asia.

Kett’s Rebellion

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Kett’s Rebellion

An 18th-century depiction of Robert Kett and his followers under the Oak of Reformation on Mousehold Heath
Date8 July 1549 – 27 August 1549LocationNorfolkResult Victory for Edwardian forces, rebellion suppressed, execution of rebel commanders
East Anglian rebels  Kingdom of England
Commanders and leaders
Robert Kett Edward VI of England
Edward Seymour, 1st Duke of Somerset
John Dudley, 1st Earl of Warwick
William Parr, 1st Marquess of Northampton
~16,000 rebels ~12,000 troops
~1,200 German mercenaries
Casualties and losses
At least 3,000 killed
Unknown wounded
~3,000 deaths

Kett’s Rebellion was a revolt in Norfolk, England during the reign of Edward VI, largely in response to the enclosure of land. It began at Wymondham on 8 July 1549 with a group of rebels destroying fences that had been put up by wealthy landowners. One of their targets was yeoman farmer Robert Kett who, instead of resisting the rebels, agreed to their demands and offered to lead them. Kett and his forces, joined by recruits from Norwich and the surrounding countryside and numbering some 16,000, set up camp on Mousehold Heath to the north-east of the city on 12 July. The rebels stormed Norwich on 29 July and took the city. On 1 August the rebels defeated a Royal Army led by the Marquess of Northampton who had been sent by the government to suppress the uprising. Kett’s rebellion ended on 27 August when the rebels were defeated by an army under the leadership of the Earl of Warwick at the Battle of Dussindale. Kett was captured, held in the Tower of London, tried for treason, and hanged from the walls of Norwich Castle on 7 December 1549.



The 1540s saw a crisis in agriculture in England. With the majority of the population depending on the land, this led to outbreaks of unrest across the country. Kett’s rebellion in Norfolk was the most serious of these. The main grievance of the rioters was enclosure, the fencing of common land by landlords for their own use. Enclosure left peasants with nowhere to graze their animals. Some landowners were forcing tenants off their farms so that they could engross their holdings and convert arable land into pasture for sheep, which had become more profitable as demand for wool increased.[1] Inflation, unemployment, rising rents and declining wages added to the hardships faced by the common people.[2] As the historian Mark Cornwall put it, they “could scarcely doubt that the state had been taken over by a breed of men whose policy was to rob the poor for the benefit of the rich”.[3]

Uprising at Wymondham

Kett’s Rebellion is remembered on Wymondham‘s town sign

Kett’s rebellion, or “the commotion time” as it was also called in Norfolk, began in July 1549 in the small market town of Wymondham, nearly ten miles south-west of Norwich. The previous month there had been a minor disturbance at the nearby town of Attleborough where fences, built by the lord of the manor to enclose common lands, were torn down. The rioters thought they were acting legally, since Edward Seymour (1st Duke of Somerset, and Lord Protector during part of Edward VI‘s minority) had issued a proclamation against illegal enclosures.[4] Wymondham held its annual feast on the weekend of 6 July 1549 and a play in honour of St Thomas Becket, the co-patron of Wymondham Abbey, was performed. This celebration was illegal, as Henry VIII had decreed in 1538 that the name of Thomas Becket should be removed from the church calendar. On the Monday, when the feast was over, a group of people set off to the villages of Morley St. Botolph and Hethersett to tear down hedges and fences. One of their first targets was Sir John Flowerdew, a lawyer and landowner at Hethersett who was unpopular for his role as overseer of the demolition of Wymondham Abbey (part of which was the parish church) during the dissolution of the monasteries and for enclosing land. Flowerdew bribed the rioters to leave his enclosures alone and instead attack those of Robert Kett at Wymondham.[5]

Kett was about 57 years old and was one of the wealthier farmers in Wymondham. The Ketts (also spelt Ket, Cat, Chat, or Knight) had been farming in Norfolk since the twelfth century. Kett was the son of Tom and Margery Kett and had several brothers, and clergyman Francis Kett was his nephew. Two or possibly three of Kett’s brothers were dead by 1549, but his eldest brother William joined him in the rebellion.[6] Kett’s wife, Alice, and several sons are not recorded as having been involved in the rebellion.[7] Kett had been prominent among the parishioners in saving their parish church when Wymondham Abbey was demolished and this had led to conflict with Flowerdew.[8] Having listened to the rioters’ grievances, Kett decided to join their cause and helped them tear down his own fences before taking them back to Hethersett where they destroyed Flowerdew’s enclosures.[9] “By bearing a confident countenance in all his actions, the Vulgars took him (Kett) to be both valiant and wise, and a fit man to be their commander”

Sir John Hayward, Life of King Edward VI[10]

Kett’s Oak, beside the B1172, near Hethersett, Norfolk

The following day, Tuesday 9 July, the protesters set off for Norwich. By now Kett was their leader and they were being joined by people from nearby towns and villages.[11] A local tradition holds that a meeting point for the rebels was an oak tree on the road between Wymondham and Hethersett, where nine of the rebels were later hanged. Known as Kett’s Oak, it has been preserved by Norfolk County Council.[12][13] The oak became a symbol of the rebellion when an oak tree on Mousehold Heath was made the centre of the rebel camp, but this “Oak of Reformation” no longer stands.[14]

Mousehold camp

Kett and his followers camped for the night of 9 July at Bowthorpe, just west of Norwich. Here they were approached by the sheriff of Norfolk and Suffolk, Sir Edmund Wyndham, who ordered them to disperse. The response was negative, and the sheriff retreated back to Norwich. Next the rebels were visited by the mayor of Norwich, Thomas Codd, who met a similar response. The following night the rebels camped at nearby Eaton Wood and then, having been refused permission to march through Norwich to reach Mousehold Heath north-east of the city, crossed the River Wensum at Hellesdon and spent the night at Drayton. On Friday 12 July, the rebels reached Mousehold, where they had a vantage point overlooking Norwich, and set up the camp that was their base for the next six and a half weeks.[15] The camp was the largest of several rebel camps that had appeared in East Anglia that summer. The rebels were known at the time as the “camp men” and the rebellion as the “camping tyme” or “commotion tyme”.[16]

An early 19th-century painting of Mousehold Heath by local artist John Crome

Kett set up his headquarters in St Michael’s Chapel, the ruins of which have since been known as Kett’s Castle.[17] Mount Surrey, a house built by the Earl of Surrey on the site of the despoiled St Leonard’s Priory, had lain empty since the Earl’s execution in 1547 and was used to hold Kett’s prisoners. Kett’s council, which consisted of representatives from the Hundreds of Norfolk and one representative from Suffolk met under the Oak of Reformation to administer the camp, issuing warrants to obtain provisions and arms and arrest members of the gentry.[18] According to one source the Oak of Reformation was cut down by Norwich City Council in the 1960s to make way for a car park,[19] although Reg Groves wrote in the 1940s that it had already been destroyed.[20] The camp was joined by workers and artisans from Norwich, and by people from the surrounding towns and villages, until it was larger than Norwich, at that time the second-largest city in England with a population of about 12,000. The city authorities, having sent messengers to London, remained in negotiation with the rebels and Mayor Thomas Codd, former Mayor Thomas Aldrich and preacher Robert Watson accepted the rebels’ invitation to take part in their council.[21]

Wikisource has original text related to this article: Kett’s Demands Being in Rebellion

Once the camp was established at Mousehold the rebels drew up a list of 29 grievances,[22] signed by Kett, Codd, Aldrich and the representatives of the Hundreds, and sent it to Protector Somerset.[23] The grievances have been described by one historian as a shopping-list of demands but which nevertheless have a strong logic underlying them, articulating “a desire to limit the power of the gentry, exclude them from the world of the village, constrain rapid economic change, prevent the overexploitation of communal resources, and remodel the values of the clergy”.[24] Although the rebels were all the while tearing down hedges and filling in ditches, only one of the 29 articles mentioned enclosure: ‘We pray your grace that where it is enacted for enclosing, that it be not hurtful to such as have enclosed saffren grounds, for they be greatly chargeable to them, and that from henceforth no man shall enclose any more.’ The exemption for ‘saffren grounds’ has puzzled historians; one has suggested that it may have been a scribal error for ‘sovereign grounds’, grounds that were the exclusive freehold property of their owners,[25] while others have commented on the importance of saffron to local industry.[26] The rebels also asked ‘that all bondmen may be made free, for God made all free, with his precious blood shedding.’ The rebels may have been articulating a grievance against the 1547 Act for the Punishment of Vagabonds, which made it legal to enslave a discharged servant who did not find a new master within three days, though they may also have been calling for the manumission of the thousands of Englishmen and women who were serfs.[27] (In 1549, an Act Touching on the Punishment of Vagabonds and Other Idle Persons avoided the word “slave” but retained many of the harshest provisions of the 1547 Act.)

The truce between the city and the camp was ended on 21 July by a messenger from the King’s Council, York Herald Bartholomew Butler, who arrived at Norwich from London, went with city officials to Mousehold, proclaimed the gathering a rebellion, and offered pardon. Kett rejected the offer, saying he had no need of a pardon because he had committed no treason. York Herald lacked the forces to arrest the rebels and retreated into Norwich with the Mayor. Kett and his followers were now officially rebels; the authorities therefore shut the city gates and set about preparing the city defences.[28]

Fall of Norwich

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Norwich at the time of Kett’s Rebellion

Kett was now left with a decision. He would not, probably could not, disperse the camp, but without access to the markets of Norwich, his people would starve. It was therefore decided to attack Norwich.

In the late evening of 21 July 1549, rebel artillery positioned on and beneath Mount Surrey, the heights opposite the Bishopsgate bridge, at the top of which now stands a memorial to the rebellion, opened fire. The bombardment and the response from the city’s artillery entrenched next to the bridge and around the Cow Tower lasted through the night.

At first light on 22 July, Kett withdrew his artillery. The city defenders had repositioned six artillery pieces in the meadow behind the hospital (now the cricket ground of Norwich school) and were laying down such an accurate fire that the rebels feared the loss of all their guns. Under a flag of truce the rebels demanded access to the city, which the city authorities refused.

Kett’s artillery, now on the slopes of Mousehold Heath, opened fire on the city. The guns in the hospital meadow could not reach far enough uphill to return the fire. At this point an assault began, ordered by Kett or perhaps by other rebel leaders. Thousands of rebels charged down from Mousehold and began swimming the Wensum between the Cow Tower and Bishops Gate. The city defenders fired volleys of arrows into the rebels as they crossed, but could not stop the attack. A running battle ensued. In the market square the York Herald tried to address the rebels, but as threats were made against him he fled in fear of his life. England’s second largest city was in the hands of a rebel army.[29]

Attacks on the rebels

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The King sent the Marquess of Northampton with 1,500 men, including Italian mercenaries, to quell the rebellion. As he drew near to the city he sent forward his herald to demand the surrender of the city. The Deputy Mayor, Augustine Steward, responded. It was conveyed that the rebels had retreated back to the safety of the high ground overlooking the city. Kett had already seen how difficult it was to defend miles of walls and gates and had instead chosen to withdraw. It was much more prudent to allow Northampton’s tiny army to defend the city while he again laid siege to it.

On the night of 31 July, the Royal army made its defensive preparations and started patrolling the city’s narrow streets. Around midnight alarms rang out, waking Northampton. It appeared hundreds of rebels were using the cover of darkness and their knowledge of the maze of small streets and alleys around Tombland to launch hit-and-run attacks on Royal troops. Lord Sheffield suggested constructing ramparts along the eastern side of the city, which was open to attack, and warned that the rebels were crossing the river around Bishopsgate with ease.

By 8 am the following morning, 1 August, the ramparts were strengthened between the Cow Tower and Bishopsgate, so Sheffield retired to The Maid’s Head inn for breakfast. A little after this, Northampton received information that the rebels wished to discuss surrender and were gathering around the Pockthorpe gate. Sheffield went with the Herald to discuss this apparent good turn of events with the rebels. On arrival, Sheffield found no rebels at all. It appears to have been either a false rumour or a diversion, as at that point thousands of rebels again began crossing the River Wensum around Bishopsgate.

Northampton’s main force was in the market place. As the attack developed, he fed men through the streets into a growing and vicious street battle across the whole eastern area of the city. Seeing things going the rebels’ way, Sheffield took command of a body of cavalry and charged the rebels across the cathedral precinct, past St Martin at Place Church and into Bishopsgate Street. Outside the Great Hospital in Bishopsgate Street, Sheffield fell from his horse into a ditch. Expecting then to be captured and ransomed, as was the custom, he removed his helmet, only to be killed by a blow from a rebel, reputedly a butcher named Fulke.

With the loss of a senior commander and his army being broken up in street fighting, Northampton ordered a retreat. The retreat did not stop until the remnants of the Royal Army reached Cambridge.

The Earl of Warwick led the force that defeated the rebels

The Earl of Warwick was then sent with a stronger army of around 14,000 men including mercenaries from Wales, Germany and Spain. Warwick had previously fought in France, was a former member of the House of Commons and subsequently the Privy Council, making him a strong leader. Despite the increased threat, the rebels were loyal to Kett throughout and continued to fight Warwick’s men.

Northampton served as Warwick’s second-in-command in the second attempt to deal with the rebel host, this time with a much larger force. Warwick managed to enter the city on 24 August by attacking the St Stephen’s and Brazen gates. The rebels retreated through the city, setting fire to houses as they went in an attempt to slow the Royal army’s advance. About 3 pm Warwick’s baggage train entered the city. It managed to get lost and rather than halting in the market place it continued through Tombland and straight down Bishopsgate Street towards the rebel army. A group of rebels saw the train from Mousehold and ran down into the city to capture it. Captain Drury led his men in an attempt to recapture the train, which included all the artillery. He managed to salvage some of the guns in yet another fierce fight around Bishopsgate.

At 10 pm that same night shouts of “fire” started. The rebels had entered the city and were burning it. Warwick was in the same trap as Northampton had been, surrounded inside a city in danger of being burnt to the ground.

At first light on 25 August the rebels changed tactics. Their artillery broke down the walls around the northern area of the city near the Magdalen and Pockthorpe gates. With the north of the city again in rebel hands, Warwick launched an attack. Bitter street fighting eventually cleared the city once again. The rebels bombarded the city throughout the day and night.

On 26 August, 1,500 foreign mercenaries arrived in the city. These were German “landsknechts“, a mix of handgunners and pikemen. With these reinforcements and the townsfolk, Warwick now had an army so formidable it could no longer hide within the city. Kett and his people were aware of this, and that night they left their camp at Mousehold for lower ground in preparation for battle.

During the morning of 27 August, the armies faced each other outside the city. The final battle took place at Dussindale, and was a disaster for the rebels. In the open, against well-armed and trained troops, thousands were killed and the rest ran for their lives.

The location of Dussindale has never been established. The most popular theory is that the dale began in the vicinity of the Plumstead Road East allotments that swept into Valley Drive and into the present remnant of Mousehold, into the Long Valley and out into what is now Gertrude Road and the allotments. In Victorian times this area was known as ‘Ketts Meadow’. The name Dussindale has been given to a recent housing development in nearby Thorpe St Andrew.


About 3,000 rebels are thought to have been killed at Dussindale, with Warwick’s army losing some 250 men.[30] The morning after the battle, 28 August, rebels were hanged at the Oak of Reformation and outside the Magdalen Gate. Estimates of the number vary from 30 to 300. Warwick had already executed 49 rebels when he had entered Norwich a few days before.[31] There is only one attested incident in which the rebels had killed in cold blood: one of Northampton’s Italian mercenaries had been hanged following his capture.[32]

Kett was captured at the village of Swannington the night after the battle and taken, together with his brother William, to the Tower of London to await trial for treason. Found guilty, the brothers were returned to Norwich at the beginning of December. Kett was hanged from the walls of Norwich Castle on 7 December 1549; on the same day William was hanged from the west tower of Wymondham Abbey.


“In 1549 AD Robert Kett yeoman farmer of Wymondham was executed by hanging in this Castle after the defeat of the Norfolk Rebellion of which he was leader. In 1949 AD – four hundred years later – this Memorial was placed here by the citizens of Norwich in reparation and honour to a notable and courageous leader in the long struggle of the common people of England to escape from a servile life into the freedom of just conditions”

Plaque on the wall of Norwich Castle

In 1550, the Norwich authorities decreed that in future 27 August should be a holiday to commemorate “the deliverance of the city” from Kett’s Rebellion, and paid for lectures in the cathedral and parish churches on the sins of rebellion.[33] This tradition continued for over a century.

The rising was discussed by Sir John Cheke in The hurt of sedicion howe greueous it is to a commune welth, (1549).[34] The only known surviving eye-witness account of the rebellion, a manuscript by Nicholas Sotherton, son of a Norwich mayor, is hostile towards the rebels. So too is Alexander Neville’s 1575 Latin history of the rebellion, De furoribus Norfolciensium. Neville was secretary to Matthew Parker, who had preached to Kett’s followers under the Oak of Reformation on Mousehold, unsuccessfully appealing to them to disperse.[35] In 1615 Neville’s work was translated into English by Norfolk clergyman Richard Woods under the title Norfolke Furies and was reprinted throughout the following century. Francis Blomefield‘s detailed account in his History of Norwich (published in parts during 1741 and 1742) was based on Neville but supplemented with material from other sources such as the works of Raphael Holinshed, Peter Heylin and Thomas Fuller, together with various local records. ‘Blomefield allowed himself sufficient impartiality to be able to set out, without comment, the grievances of those taking part, but heaped abuse on them for going further than their original intentions’.[36]

It was only in the 19th century that more sympathetic portrayals of the rebellion appeared in print and started the process that saw Kett transformed from traitor to folk hero. An anonymous work of 1843 was critical of Neville’s account of the rebellion, and in 1859 clergyman Frederic Russell, who had unearthed new material in archives for his account of the rebellion, concluded that “though Kett is commonly considered a rebel, yet the cause he advocated is so just, that one cannot but feel he deserved a better name and a better fate”.[37]

Robert Kett’s death is commemorated in 2011

In 1948, Alderman Fred Henderson, a former mayor of Norwich who had been imprisoned in the Castle for his part in the food riots of 1885, proposed a memorial to Kett. Originally hoping for a statue, he settled for a plaque on the walls of Norwich Castle engraved with his words and unveiled in 1949, 400 years after the rebellion.[38] In the 21st century the death of Kett is still remembered by the people of Norwich. On 7 December 2011, the anniversary of his death, a memorial march by members of Norwich Occupy and Norwich Green Party took place and a wreath was laid by the gates of Norwich Castle.[39]

Kett’s Oak or the Oak of Reformation on Kett House, an office block in Station Road, Cambridge; Willi Soukop, sculptor

After the rebellion the lands of Kett and his brother William were forfeited, although some of them were later restored to one of his sons. In the longer term the Kett family do not seem to have suffered from their association with the rebellion, but to have prospered in various parts of Norfolk.[40] George Kett, a descendant of Kett’s younger brother Thomas, moved to Cambridge and co-founded the architectural masonry company of Rattee and Kett. George Kett’s son, also George, was mayor of Cambridge on three occasions and compiled a genealogy of the Kett family.[41]

The rebellion is remembered in the names of schools, streets, pubs and a walking route in the Norwich and Wymondham area, including the Robert Kett Junior School in Wymondham, Dussindale Primary School in Norwich, the Robert Kett pub in Wymondham, Kett House residence at the University of East Anglia, and Kett’s Tavern in Norwich,[42] and in a folk band, Lewis Garland and Kett’s Rebellion, and a beer, Kett’s Rebellion, by Woodforde’s Brewery in Norwich.

Kett’s rebellion has featured in novels, including Frederick H. Moore’s Mistress Haselwode: A tale of the Reformation Oak (1876), F.C. Tansley’s For Kett and Countryside (1910), Jack Lindsay‘s The Great Oak (1949), Sylvia Haymon’s children’s story The Loyal Traitor (1965), Margaret Callow’s A Rebellious Oak (2012), and C.J. Sansom‘s Tombland (2018); plays, including George Colman Green’s Kett the tanner (1909); and poetry, including Keith Chandler’s collection Kett’s Rebellion and Other Poems (1982). In 1988 British composer Malcolm Arnold produced the Robert Kett Overture (Opus 141), inspired by the rebellion.

Notes and references

Cornwall 1977, 11 Cornwall 1977, 19–20 Cornwall 1977, 23 Beer 1982, 82–83 Land 1977, 42 Land 1977, 23–4, 43 Land 1977, 145–9. Alice Kett has been tentatively identified as the daughter of Sir Nicholas Appleyard, making Kett uncle by marriage to two of the men he took prisoner during the rebellion, and to Flowerdew’s daughter-in-law. Alice Kett’s brother’s widow married Sir John Robsart and was the mother of Amy Robsart. Land 1977, 22–23 Land 1977, 43 Quoted in Clayton 1912, 48 Land 1977, 44 “Kett’s Oak”. Norfolk Heritage Explorer. Norfolk County Council. Pictures of Kett’s Oak through the ages on Hethersett village website Land 1977, 44,60 Land 1977, 42–47 Wood 2002, 62–63 Groves 1947, 31 Wood 2002, 64 Wyler 2009, 16 Groves 1947, 109 (“an old map of Mousehold shows that it stood where the Water Tower now stands near the junction of Primrose Road and Telegraph Lane”) Groves 1947, 34 Russell 1859, 48–56 (the 29 articles with explanatory notes) Dunning, Andrew. “‘Kett’s Demands Being in Rebellion'”. Medieval Manuscripts Blog. The British Library. Retrieved 20 November 2016. Wood 2002, 66 MacCulloch 1979 Land 1977, 68 Diarmaid MacCulloch ,”Bondmen under the Tudor”, Law and Government under the Tudors: Essays Presented to Sir Geoffrey Elton, ed. Claire Cross et al. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), 91–93. Land 1977, 78–9 [1] Land 1977, 123 Land 1977, 124–5 Land 1977, 94 Wood 2007, 228 John Cheke, The hurt of sedicion howe greueous it is to a commune welth, (London: Iohn Daye and Wylliam Seres, 1549), ESTC S107791. Land 1977, 75 David Stoker, ‘Francis Blomefield as a historian of Norwich’, Norfolk Archaeology, LIV (2005). 387-405, 393. Russell 1859, quoted in Wood 2007, 260 Wood 2007, 262–4 “A New Economic Story – The Courageous State”. Green Party (UK). 2 December 2011. Archived from the original on 24 December 2012. Retrieved 15 January 2012. Land 1977, 144–5 A photograph of George Kett, Mayor of Cambridge, on Cambridge City Council website

  1. M. Pentelow and P. Arkell, People’s Pubs: Robert Kett Archived 5 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine, RMT News, July/August 2010, 36


  • Beer, B.L. 1982 Rebellion and Riot: popular disorder in England during the reign of Edward VI. Kent, Ohio: Kent State University Press
  • Clayton, J. 1912 Robert Kett and the Norfolk Rising. London: Martin Secker
  • Cornwall, J. 1977 Revolt of the Peasantry 1549. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul
  • Groves, R. 1947 Rebel’s Oak: the story of the great rebellion of 1549. London: Red Flag Fellowship
  • Land, Stephen K. (1977). Kett’s rebellion: The Norfolk rising of 1549. Ipswich: Boydell Press. ISBN 978-0-85115-084-0.
  • MacCulloch, Diarmaid (8 January 1979). “Kett’s Rebellion in Context”. Past & Present. 84 (1): 36–59. doi:10.1093/past/84.1.36. ISSN 0031-2746. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
  • Russell, Frederic William (1859). Kett’s rebellion in Norfolk. London: Longmans, Brown, Green, Longmans and Roberts. Retrieved 26 October 2016.
  • Wood, Andy (2002). Riot, rebellion and popular politics in early modern England. Social history in perspective. Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Palgrave. ISBN 978-0-333-63761-6.
  • Wood, Andy (2007). The 1549 rebellions and the making of early modern England. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-83206-9.
  • Wyler, S. 2009 A history of community asset ownership. London: Development Trusts Association

External links

vteMedieval and Early Modern European peasant wars


How Bashar al-Assad Became So Hated Posted April 26th 2020

The Western-educated ophthalmologist was never intended to be the Assad brother in charge. Did his inept policies contribute to the civil war?

Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad speaks at the Opera House in Damascus on January 6, 2013. (Reuters)

The current president of Syria never aspired to be involved in politics. His brother Bassel Al-Assad was being groomed to become his father’s successor. His name summoned images of a vocal, shrewd, dynamic man who was a parachutist, a ladies’ man, an accomplished athlete, and an outgoing statesman. Bassel al-Assad was very popular and idolized by the Syrian youth. Everyone was certain that he would be the next president of Syria, after his father Hafez al-Assad, the founder of the current regime.

Compared to Bassel, his brother Bashar was not as charismatic or appealing. When I was a student in high school, I would walk the busy streets of Damascus, Aleppo, or Latakia and find the walls and windows of shops and buildings papered with posters and photographs of Bassel. His images were even plastered across cars, but there was not a trace of Bashar’s presence.

Bashar did not seek out recognition or popularity. He had no interest in being in the middle of politics, as his brother did. In his school days, he was perceived by the Syrian society as a shy, reserved, weak, hesitant child who did not inherit any of his father’s or brother’s intelligence and leadership. Regardless of the assumptions of the entire country, soon the invisible hand of history would sweep away these perceptions prove everyone wrong.

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Unlike his dynamic brother, the people of Syria viewed Bashar as a nerd, not someone with the instincts or the drive to lead a country. “He’s certainly not a leader,” my cousin, who was later killed in the recent uprising, and his friends would say of Bashar. Even a sympathizer with the regime, an Alawite named Abu Hisham, would say, “Bashar can not stand against powers such as Israel and the United States. We need a leader who is strong like Bassel.”

Even Bashar’s physical appearance — his thin frame — gave him an image of frailness. Nor did Bashar seem interested in projecting leadership; he was looking for a normal, peaceful, luxurious life somewhere in Europe with a prospective wife.

Bassel was following in the footsteps of his father, though he was a little wilder than his father had ever been. Bashar’s sister Bushra was confident and influential in the country. Bashar was viewed as the “momma’s boy,” and was often seen as a bit of a joke, according to Jean-Marie Quemener , a journalist who has written about Assad . (Even during the recent uprising, people would lampoon him in a satirical web series where he is labeled as “Beesho,” or “baby Bashar.”)

However, while the entire country focused on his alluring older brother, Bashar was educating himself. He learned to be fluent in French at the Arab-French Al Hurriya School in Damascus and graduated from high school the same year of the Hama massacre, during which an estimated 10,000 to 25,000 people were killed by his father. Bashar had a love for medicine, and he continued his education at the University of Damascus. As dedicated as he was to his country, he was always more attracted to the Western style of life than his father and siblings, so after finishing his residency in ophthalmology at the Tishreen military hospital outside of Damascus, Bashar then traveled to England in 1992 to study at the Western Eye Hospital.

At the same time, his father was grooming Bassel to become the future president and vivacious leader that the country expected him to be. Bashar was savoring a comfortable life in a luxurious home and continuing on as a deeply devoted medical student. He appeared to adore the anonymity that London offered him.

Bashar’s years living in London made his attraction to the Western style of living to grow even stronger. His later speeches would indicate that he always wondered why Syria had not evolved in a similar way, and that he wished his country was more modernized.

Then one day in 1994, Bashar received the phone call that would alter his life forever. His brother Bassel had died in a car accident. Since that day many have questioned why Bashar’s calculative father chose his quiet, subdued son to take his place, rather than Bashar’s other brother Maher, who was much more similar to Bassel.

I remember when the images and posters of Bassel started to be replaced by that of Bashar in the streets of Damascus. His father, although sick, tried hard to market his son as the symbol of “hope.” For almost two years after Bassel’s death, Bashar was not in the public eye. He was being trained in military and political affairs.

After two years, Bashar was transformed. Even his low, soft, child-like voice seemed to be tougher, and his stance became more confident and powerful. But many Syrian people would say that though Bashar changed on the surface, he had not changed on the inside. They believe he was still an anxious man with vacillating moods, just as he was when he was a child. Despite these misgivings, Bashar is considered the most articulate Arab leader; he is the only one who speaks Fusha (formal) Arabic most of the time.

When he assumed power, the lifestyle the West still occupied Assad’s mind — In his inaugural speech he emphasized that it was time to begin modernizing Syria. But to modernize Syria and remake it in the “image” he desired, he needed to adopt neo-liberal and capitalist policies, both of which stirred up a strong resistance from his father’s old guard, who founded the socialist and secular Ba’ath Party. Not knowing the long-term consequences of marrying neoliberalism with the authoritarian structure, Bashar gained short-term benefits with his vast changes, but he also planted the seed of revolution.

In the beginning of his rule, he introduced the Damascus Spring, which included some political reforms that would suit the economic changes he planned. But when he saw that the reaction to his political shake-up was endangering his own throne, he retreated to old policies of mass repression, relying on Mukhabarat, the secret security police, to enforce his commands.

Internal clashes and tensions between Bashar and his father’s old guard were inevitable. Men such as Ali Duba (former head of the Syrian military intelligence and a close adviser to the Syrian president Hafez al-Assad) as well as hardliners such as his brother Maher al-Assad (commander of the Republican Guard and the army’s elite Fourth Armored Division), held such opposing views to that of their new leader that chaos was certain to occur.

During his early rule, Bashar became aware of the discontent and used his power to retire some of the old guard, sweeping them from power to reduce the conflict he faced.

The gradual increase of neo-liberal policies and privatization exaggerated the inequality between the poor and the rich, which was especially felt in middle-class areas, and mid-sized and large cities. While a small portion of the crony capitalists and loyalists to Assad were able to benefit from these policies, the vast majority of the population was disenfranchised. The uprising in the Arab world (Tunisia, Egypt, Libya) in 2011 also sparked the revolution against Bashar, who was still perceived as an inept leader.

Unable to control the uprising, the old guard members who had been forced to retire, surged back to power to address the situation. During the uprising, some Alawite people started chanting “Bashar lal iyada wa Maher lal ghiyada,” meaning, Bashar should go back to the clinic and Maher should become the leader. Did Bashar’s mama’s boy image contribute to emboldening the people to come to streets? Did Bashar’s idealistic vision of creating a “Switzerland” Syria — but still consolidating power at the top — play a role in the uprising? Did his vast and sudden economic and neo-liberal reforms, which in the end only benefited his gilded circle, have an impact on the current civil war? Perhaps the combination of all of these factors led to the rampant rebellion and mistrust of the people that Bashar had been chosen to lead.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to letters@theatlantic.com.Majid Rafizadeh, an Iranian-Syrian scholar, is the president of the International American Council on the Middle East. 

Washington-With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

Mar 7, 2019 Joe Archino


Washington was inaugurated as the First President of the United States on April 30, 1789.

Henry “Light Horse” Harry Lee famously eulogized George Washington as, “First in war, first in peace, and first in the hearts of his countrymen.” As Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, president of the Constitutional Convention, and the First President of the United States, Washington dedicated the prime of his life to serving America and he rightfully holds the informal title, “Father of His Country.”

Guided by his devotion to duty, unbreakable conviction, faith, sense of responsibility, and his commitment to leading by example, Washington lived a life of honor that every American should strive to learn from.

1. Duty to Country Always Comes First

Mount Vernon was not just the place George Washington called home. For the Virginia farmer, landowner, and businessman, it was also his paradise. Washington was happiest when managing the responsibilities of his vast plantation, but when duty called, he always answered.

Mount Vernon seen from the Potomac River. Photo: baldeaglebluff / CC BY-SA 2.0
Mount Vernon seen from the Potomac River. Photo: baldeaglebluff / CC BY-SA 2.0

In June 1775, the Second Continental Congress formally established a standing army and appointed George Washington as the Commander-in-Chief. After taking command, Washington did not return to Mount Vernon until the war brought him back to Virginia in autumn 1781, giving him the chance to visit his beloved home for the first time in six years and four months.

Washington was rarely away from his men during the conflict and faithfully led the Continental Army for eight years until victory was finally achieved in 1783.

George Washington by Peale 1776.
George Washington by Peale 1776.

Having done everything in his power to secure American independence, Washington decided to retire “from all public employments” after the war. He found true peace back at Mount Vernon and was happy to “move gently down the stream of life until I sleep with my fathers.” Washington’s joyful retirement was interrupted in 1787 when his country called on him again.

The dutiful patriot traveled to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania to attend the Constitutional Convention and was unanimously elected its president. Washington’s steady leadership was instrumental and the Convention ultimately crafted the United States Constitution. The new Constitution called for a single executive, and no one doubted who that executive would be.

After the Electoral College unanimously elected him, Washington was inaugurated as the First President of the United States on April 30, 1789. He was eager to retire after his first term, but Washington’s closest friends and advisors implored him not to, warning that the troubles facing the young nation might lead to division and chaos.

Inauguration of George Washington as first president 1789
Inauguration of George Washington as first president 1789

As Washington’s Secretary of State, Thomas Jefferson told him, “North and South will hang together if they have you to hang on.” Washington accepted that his country still needed him and was unanimously elected to a second term in 1793. After serving eight years in office, Washington finally returned to Mount Vernon in 1797.

In 1798, war between the United States and France seemed very likely. President John Adams appointed the nation’s most famous soldier to lead the American military effort in the event of a French invasion. Washington agreed to serve and even traveled to Philadelphia to undertake preparations for the new army. Although war was ultimately avoided, Washington once again proved that whenever his country needed him, he would abandon the comfort of his home and be there for her.

Washington spent his final days at Mount Vernon before passing away of a throat infection on December 14, 1799 at the age of 67.

Portrait of George Washington
Portrait of George Washington

Although Washington loved his home and working on his plantation more than anything, he understood that a man must never shy away from his primary duty and dedicated 17 years of his life to serving his country during the Revolutionary War, the Constitutional Convention, and the Presidency, establishing precedents and laying the groundwork for the United States to become a beacon of freedom.

George Washington’s life is a reminder that duty to country always comes first.

2. Never Give Up

George Washington considered the American triumph in the Revolutionary war “little short of a standing miracle.” From 1775 to 1783, Washington led an army that was ill-clad, poorly supplied, rarely if ever paid, and constantly plagued by scores of other issues against the world’s premier war machine of its day.

There were times during the war when all seemed lost, but no matter how many setbacks his army encountered, Washington refused to give up. His courage was never in doubt; he constantly stood by his men, and he fearlessly stared down every danger.

General Washington leading the Continental Army to Valley Forge in 1777.
General Washington leading the Continental Army to Valley Forge in 1777.

This iconic painting by William Trego was inspired by a passage from Washington Irving’s Life of George Washington: “Sad and dreary was the march to Valley Forge, uncheered by the recollection of any recent triumph. . . Hungry and cold were the poor fellows who had so long been keeping the field . . . provisions were scant, clothing was worn out, and so badly were they off for shoes, that the footsteps of many might be tracked in blood.”

As the Commander-in-Chief once reminded his soldiers, “The fate of unborn millions will now depend, under God, on the courage and conduct of this army.” Washington never forgot what was at stake in the Revolutionary War and his devotion to the cause and to his soldiers ultimately paid off. As Washington believed, “Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.” General Washington witnessed those wonders firsthand by exhibiting an unbreakable spirit and persevering to secure America’s ultimate victory over Great Britain.

George Washington never gave up, and regardless of the obstacles that stand in our way, neither should we.

3. Remember that God is Always With You

The Prayer at Valley Forge, engraved by John C. McRae. (Photo: Library of Congress)
The Prayer at Valley Forge, engraved by John C. McRae. (Photo: Library of Congress)

George Washington understood the miraculousness of America’s victory in the Revolutionary War better than anyone, and while the Commander-in-Chief did everything in his power to secure his nation’s independence, he always believed that the triumph would not have been possible without God watching over him and his army. Often using the word “Providence” to refer to God, Washington expressed this belief on many occasions:

“If such talents as I possess have been called into action by great events, and those events have terminated happily for our country, the glory should be ascribed to the manifest interposition of an overruling Providence.”

“I was but the humble Agent of favouring Heaven, whose benign interference was so often manifested in our behalf, and to whom the praise of victory alone is due.”

“The kind interposition of Providence which has been so often manifested in the affairs of this country, must naturally lead us to look up to that divine source for light and direction in this new and untried Scene.”

As we go through life, we too must always remember that no matter what we are going through, God will always be with us.

4. With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

In a world run by kings, George Washington would not wear a crown. He wielded tremendous power as a general and president, but Washington was intensely aware of the great trust his fellow Americans placed in him and he never abused the power he was entrusted with.

Washington received a letter during the Revolution that slightly suggested he should assume the title of American Monarch. The seriousness of Washington’s response said everything about his character and integrity: “No occurrence in the course of the war has given me more painful sensations than your information of there being such ideas existing in the army…. I must view with abhorrence and reprehend with severity” any idea that was “big with the greatest mischiefs that can befall my country.” Washington was truly incorruptible.

Perhaps the greatest act that demonstrated Washington’s understanding of power and responsibility came when he surrendered his military commission to congress on December 23, 1783.

As he stood before the gathered congressmen in the statehouse at Annapolis, Maryland, the Commander-in-Chief declared, “Having now finished the work assigned me, I retire from the great theatre of Action-and bidding an Affectionate farewell to this August body under whose orders I have so long acted, I here offer my Commission, and take my leave of all the employments of public life.”

By surrendering his military commission to a grateful Congress, Washington affirmed a principle he firmly believed in: civilian control of the military.

General George Washington Resigning His Commission by John Trumbull.
General George Washington Resigning His Commission by John Trumbull.

As history around the world has shown, some revolutionary leaders in Washington’s position might have attempted to seize political power. In fact, Washington had been forced to put down a potential coup d’état in March 1783 when disgruntled army officers threated to overthrow the civilian government over its failure to pay their salaries or pensions.

Upon hearing that Washington intended to peacefully surrender his commission and return home, Great Britain’s King George III reportedly said, “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.” Washington did, and during his time on this earth, he demonstrated how a true leader uses power responsibly.

Like Washington, we must also understand that with great power comes great responsibility.

5. Set an Example

A portrait of President George Washington by Gilbert Stuart.
A portrait of President George Washington by Gilbert Stuart.

In everything that he did, George Washington always set an example for others to follow. Regarding his position as the First President of the United States, Washington wrote, “I walk on untrodden ground. There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter be drawn into precedent.”

Washington understood that in a world where royalty reigned supreme, it was up to him to prove that the republican model of government could succeed. One of the most important ways of doing that was to ensure the peaceful transition of power from one president to the next. During Washington’s time there were no term limits, and while many would have supported him in office until the day he died, Washington knew that he had to establish a precedent for others to follow.

Read another story from us: Outsmarted and Outflanked – Washington’s Defeat at Long Island

Hence, at the end of his second term, Washington stepped down as president, setting an example that lasted until President Franklin D. Roosevelt won a third term in 1940, and ensuring that succession would be determined by the ballot box. Today, the 22nd Amendment to the U.S. Constitution ensures that no person can be elected to the office of the President more than twice.

There will be people in our own lives who look up to us for guidance, and like Washington, we must also understand the importance of setting an example for those individuals to follow.

The Airman Who Fell 18,000 Feet Without A Parachute & Lived

Mar 7, 2019 Jay Hemmings


Faced with a terrible choice – that of burning to death, or falling to his death, Alkemade chose the latter option.

Aerial combat, like naval combat, has many risks attached to it, many of which arise from the fact that the human beings involved in such battles are far removed from their natural element: land.

Whether a few thousand miles out to sea, or a few thousand feet up in the air, when you’re fighting so far out of your natural element, you risk death not only from your enemy’s weaponry but also from the inherent danger of falling from the skies or into the unforgiving ocean.

While we have invented means to mitigate these dangers, such as lifeboats and parachutes, if these last resorts fail death is usually a certainty.

Indeed, plummeting to the earth without a parachute from 18,000 feet in the air is pretty much guaranteed to end only one way for the unfortunate person involved – but, as history has often taught us there are always exceptions to the rules, and one man who miraculously survived a parachute-less jump from his burning airplane was World War II RAF airman Nicholas Alkemade.

Nicholas Alkemade was born in 1922 in Norfolk, England, and was a gardener before signing up with the Royal Air Force when WWII broke out. He was trained as an air gunner, and after completing his training he served as a tail gunner with RAF 115 Squadron.

Crew members inspect the tail of a 115 Squadron Bomber.
Crew members inspect the tail of a 115 Squadron Bomber.

Alkemade was part of a crew that flew an Avro Lancaster MK II bomber, which was capable of carrying the largest bombs used by the RAF during the Second World War. These bombers often flew night missions, and, as such, the bomber that Alkemade’s crew manned was christened Werewolf.

Alkemade flew fourteen successful missions with the crew of Werewolf, and on the night of 24 March 1944 they were part of a bombing raid targeting Berlin. They successfully delivered their payload, but on the return journey heavy winds took them off course. They ended up flying over the Ruhr region, which had a high concentration of anti-aircraft defenses.

Avro Lancaster B Mk II
Avro Lancaster B Mk II

Werewolf was attacked from below by a German night-fighter aircraft, and the resulting damage tore up Werewolf’s wing and fuselage, and set the plane on fire. It was obvious that Werewolf was beyond salvation, and the pilot ordered the crew to grab their parachutes in preparation for an emergency exit from the burning aircraft.

Alkemade, alone in his turret at the back of the plane, was already being scorched by the flames, with his rubber oxygen mask beginning to melt on his face, and his arms seared by the fire. Scrambling for his parachute in a panic, he was hit with a moment of pure dread when he finally located it – for his parachute, like everything else around him, was on fire.

Avro Lancaster B I PA474
Avro Lancaster B I PA474

Faced with a terrible choice – that of burning to death, or falling to his death, Alkemade chose the latter option. Better to suffer the brief terror of the fall and have a swift, merciful end than suffer through the torment of fire. He jumped from the burning plane without his parachute, and, falling at almost 120mph and looking up at the starry sky and the burning airplane from which he had just jumped, he lost consciousness.

Amazingly he woke up three hours later, lying in deep snow in a pine forest. It seemed that the flexible young pines had slowed his descent enough that the snow was able to cushion his fall. He had not broken any bones, but had managed to sprain his knee after his 18,000 foot fall from the sky. In addition, he had suffered burn wounds from the fire and had pieces of perspex from his flak-shattered screen embedded in his skin.

Lancaster pilot at the controls, left, flight engineer at right
Lancaster pilot at the controls, left, flight engineer at right

While he had survived the fall, surviving the rest of the night was not a guarantee. His knee was in too much pain for him to walk, and the freezing cold was beginning to take its toll.

He began blowing his distress whistle, which eventually attracted the attention of some German civilians. He was taken to Meschede Hospital where his wounds were treated, and when he was well enough to talk, he was interrogated by the Gestapo.

He told them his story, but they refused to believe that he could have survived such a fall without a parachute. They insisted that he had buried his parachute somewhere and that he was a spy – but when they sent men to investigate the landing site, as well as the wreckage of Werewolf, they were amazed to find that the remains of Alkemade’s parachute were indeed still in the wreckage of the plane.

A model of one compound of the huge Stalag Luft III Photo by Wikigraphists CC BY SA 3.0
A model of one compound of the huge Stalag Luft III Photo by Wikigraphists CC BY SA 3.0

Alkemade then became something of a celebrity, and met a number of Luftwaffe officers who wanted to hear about his miraculous jump. However, this did not earn him any special treatment, and like any other captured Allied airman he was sent to the notorious prison camp Stalag Luft III.

Read another story from us: Revealing the Ineffectiveness of Early British Night-Bombing Raids

Alkemade’s luck remained with him, though. When the camp’s 10,000 inmates were forced to trek hundreds of miles across northern Germany, through a blizzard, with temperatures dropping as low as -22 degrees C, he survived and was eventually liberated.

After the war Alkemade worked in the chemical industry in the UK, and lived to the age of 64. He passed away in June 1987.


Mystery death of key MP witness in Diana’s ‘murder’ Posted September 21st 2019

POLICE probing a possible SAS link to Princess Diana’s death are being thwarted because of the mysterious death of a top UK politician.

ByRichard Spillett

  • 07:10, 20 SEP 2013
  • Updated12:03, 7 MAY 2015
Princess Diana’s ‘murder’ probe has been thwarted [EPA]

Robin Cook, who was Foreign Secretary when Diana died, would have had the ultimate say about any plan to kill her.

So detectives leading the new Scotland Yard inquiry into the Princess’s death would have been anxious to question him.

But the apparently fit and healthy Mr Cook died in 2005 while walking on a remote Scottish mountainside.

A helicopter took 30 minutes to get to the scene after he tumbled just 8ft down a ridge.

Mr Cook’s wife, Gaynor, did not get in the helicopter and was instead left to walk down the mountain.

By the time she got to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, her husband had already been pronounced dead. A heart attack was blamed. He was 59.

Mr Cook died a year before the conclusion of Operation Paget, the Met’s official inquiry into Diana’s death, and two years before the official inquest.

His death had a huge effect on efforts by French authorities to get to the bottom of Diana’s car crash horror in central Paris in 1997.

A senior French judicial source said: “It would have been important for us to question Mr Cook about these dramatic developments.

“If the accusation is that he was the man who may have sanctioned an attack, then of course his answers would be crucial. So many lines of inquiry led to him and his office.”

Former head of MI6 Sir Richard Dearlove testified on oath at the Diana inquest in 2007 that Mr Cook would have been required to issue a “Class Seven Authorisation”.

This would have unleashed an armed unit with a “licence to kill”, in the kind of plot a former SAS soldier has said was played out in the Alma Tunnel.

Diana’s Mercedes smashed into the underpass wall, killing her boyfriend Dodi Fayed and their French chauffeur Henri Paul.

An SAS sniper, known only as Soldier N, has since said Diana was murdered, adding to the growing belief that her death may not have been an accident.

Former Foreign Secretary had final say over SAS ‘license to kill’ [EPA]

Around 30 SAS soldiers who were serving in 1997 have now been re-interviewed in an internal probe.

On April 7, 2008, an inquest jury concluded that Diana and Dodi were unlawfully killed by the “grossly negligent” driving of Henri Paul and pursuing paparazzi photographers, but such findings have been hotly disputed.

Now it is argued that Diana was murdered when a piercing light was shone directly at the car she was travelling in.

Soldier N’s ex-wife told Scotland Yard detectives last month that her former husband decided to confide all to her after taking Prince William, then 26, on an advanced driving course in 2008.

He told his wife he already knew of the alleged plot to kill her, but a face-to-face encounter with the young prince convinced him to open up for the first time.

Will There Ever Be an Investigation Into the Death of ROBIN COOK…? TAP News Posted by Robert Cook September 21st 2019

Sat 5:46 am +00:00, 22 Aug 2015 14 posted by Gordon


I happened to notice that a week or so ago was the 10th anniversary of the death of the Labour MP and former British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook.

An apparently fit and healthy Mr Cook died in 2005 while walking on a remote Scottish mountainside, at the age of 59, and – according to the official statements – from a heart attack. Something tells me that the Chilcot Inquiry, whenever it eventually does emerge, will probably make no mention of Mr Cook’s death.

The local police’s statement after Cook’s death was a little iffy, to say the least; “As this would appear to be a medical matter,” we were told, “there is no further police involvement.” And that was it – case closed, without a real investigation having been conducted.

Just as curious was the fact that the newspapers and news media didn’t seem particularly interested in investigating Cook’s death either and the matter seemed to be pushed to one side very quickly; which is odd when it concerns the death of a highly significant political figure and the man who had only very recently been the nation’s Foreign Secretary.

Robin Cook had died very suddenly, supposedly from a heart attack while on a countryside walk with his wife. But despite the media’s remarkably limited and unquestioning coverage of the matter, there were irregularities around the circumstances of Cook’s death. Cook was rushed to hospital by helicopter without his wife, who was not permitted to accompany him, even though he was still alive at that point. The helicopter, according to newspaper reports, had taken 30 minutes to arrive at the scene. As her husband was flown off, Mrs Cook was left to walk all the way back down the Scottish mountainside on her own.

By the time she got to Raigmore Hospital in Inverness, her husband had already been pronounced dead. Gaynor Cook, his wife, has never spoken about the matter to this day, despite requests from various media organisations. The post-mortem took two days to decide whether Mr Cook “had died from an illness or injuries sustained in the fall”. The cause of death eventually settled on was ‘hypertensive heart disease’.

We were told that neither Mr Cook or his wife were carrying mobile phones with them; which, though possible, seems odd, as this was only 2005 – not the early nineties.

There is also the matter of the unidentified group of ‘walkers’ who, according to official reporting, came to Gaynor Cook’s aid when her husband had collapsed in the highlands. Is is, however, noted by some that it would’ve been unusual for such people to be around the area of Ben Stack where Mr Cook had collapsed. The landlady of Scourie Lodge, where Robin Cook and his wife had spent their final night together, had said at the time, “She was lucky another walker was in the area to be with her at such a time. You could be on Ben Stack ninety times and not see a soul, so for someone to be within shouting distance and with a mobile phone was very fortunate.”

Which leads us to wonder whether these unidentified people may have been there at that time for a more specific reason and whether they may have been something more than friendly passers-by.

Tony Blair, who was at that time still Prime Minister (and who had, some years earlier, demoted Cook to a lesser post for fear of Cook being a problem in regard to foreign policy), declined to attend Mr Cook’s funeral; the excuse given being that he was apparently busy with other matters at the time. It was Gordon Brown who gave the eulogy at Cook’s funeral service.


Cook (pictured on the right above), of course, had been one of the most ardent objectors to British involvement in the Iraq War. In fact he famously resigned from the Labour Party in protest over the decision to invade Iraq. “I have heard it said that Iraq has had not months but 12 years in which to complete disarmament and that our patience is exhausted,” Mr Cook had said at the time, “yet it is more than 30 years since Resolution 242 called on Israel to withdraw from the occupied territories. We do not express the same impatience with the persistent refusal of Israel to comply.”

He also later was open about his scepticism concerning the Al-Qaeda narrative. “There were no international terrorists in Iraq until we went in. It was we who created the conditions for Al-Qaeda to thrive,” he had said, refuting the idea that the US-led invasion had been aimed at ‘fighting terrorism’. He was correct, of course; there had been no terrorism coming from Iraq prior to 2003, no extremist groups active in Iraq prior to 2003, and Iraq had had absolutely no connection to 9/11. Iraq, like Libya soon to follow, had been a stable, secular country until Western operations callously turned it into an Al-Qaeda/terrorist stronghold.

It was Robin Cook’s sense of ethics more than anything that had guided his protest against the Blair government’s war; that same sense of ethics had been present in much of Mr Cook’s political career.

He was an early supporter of constitutional and electoral reform, and a supporter of unilateral nuclear disarmament. Among other things, Cook was responsible for the agreement between Britain and Iran that ended the Iranian death threat against the author Salman Rushdie, helping Britain and Iran to improve diplomatic relations. He is also the man most credited with having helped convince Gaddafi-era Libya, after over eight years of resistance, to hand over the suspected Lockerbie bombers for a trial in the Netherlands (but crucially according to Scottish law). This Libyan extradition of the Lockerbie suspects (who it turns out were probably innocent anyway) was a major reason that Libya and the West were able to ‘reconcile’ for those brief few years, with the Gaddafi government becoming a key ally in the so-called ‘War on Terror’.

His openly stated desire to add “an ethical dimension” to British foreign policy didn’t only see him falling out with the Blair government over the Iraq War; in March 1998, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu angrily cancelled a dinner with Cook when the British Foreign Secretary did that rare thing (for a Western politician) and openly criticised illegal Israeli settlement building in Palestinian territory.

His opposition to the Iraq War was one of the key themes in his widely acclaimed book, The Point of Departure, which, among other things, discussed in diary form his efforts to persuade his colleagues, including Tony Blair, to distance the Labour Government from the Geo-political agendas of the Neo-Con/Bush administration (obviously to no avail). Cook’s resignation speech in the House of Commons (video shown above – and notice Jeremy Corbyn on Cook’s right) received a standing ovation by fellow MPs, and it was described by the BBC’s Andrew Marr as “without doubt one of the most effective, brilliant resignation speeches in modern British politics.”

According to Cook’s obituary in The Economist‍, this had in fact been the first speech ever to receive a standing ovation in the history of the House, and it was a substantial embarrassment to the Blair government.

Summing up the character of the Iraq invasion, Mr Cook had said; “Ironically, it is only because Iraq’s military forces are so weak that we can even contemplate its invasion. Iraq probably has no weapons of mass destruction in the commonly understood sense of the term – namely a credible device capable of being delivered against a strategic city target. It probably still has biological toxins and battlefield chemical munitions, but it has had them since the 1980s when US companies sold Saddam anthrax agents and the then British Government approved chemical and munitions factories. Why is it now so urgent that we should take military action to disarm a military capacity that has been there for 20 years and which we helped to create?”

It was also Robin Cook who was willing to openly state, in 2005, that Al-Qaeda was little more than a long-held ‘database of mujahideen and fighters’, stating that the myth of a real terrorist network called ‘Al-Qaeda’ and led by Osama bin Laden was simply a fiction concocted and maintained by the CIA.


In a column for The Guardian just weeks before his death, he expressed that view; a view that has since been borne out absolutely by facts. Al-Qaeda of course does exist now, but only due to a kind of self-fulfilled prophecy; but at that time, and the time of 9/11, it is very doubtful that the organisation  existed as anything like the highly-organised ‘bogeyman’ it was being portrayed as. Robin Cook, and many other British politicians – in the Foreign Office at the very least – would’ve been well aware of that, and well aware of the fact that British intelligence had been working with Al-Qaeda affiliates for many years, for example in the ongoing operation in Libya to assassinate Gaddafi.

Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker was among those who believe that Cook did not die of natural causes, but was the victim of an intelligence agency assassination. If true, Mr Cook, like the weapons expert Dr David Kelly, might be seen as yet another domestic victim of the Iraq War conspiracy; a war that was carried out against the wishes of the British people, against the rules of international law, a war based on proven lies, a war that was entirely unnecessary, and a war that we are still all living with the consequences of.

The absolute lack of interest by virtually all of the mainstream media in looking into the death of Robin Cook remains very suspect, just like the lack of police interest at the time. Then again, even should an investigation be carried out, it probably wouldn’t be a reliable one anyway – as anyone who studies the Diana inquest will find out for themselves. That, in all likelihood, will also apply to the Chilcot Inquiry, which for all the interminable delays that have prevented its publication, is unlikely to accomplish very much.

Editorial Comment The British public think intelligence devised assassinations only happen in Holloywood films. They have a sentimental view of the past and think such behaviour just ‘isn’t cricket old boy.’ Robin Cook signed his death warrant by pointing out that Bin Laden was trained by the CIA and SAS and that Al-Qaeda was his rebels’ code name, meaning DATA FILE. Cook wrote this in ‘The Guardian’ five weeks before his death.

I was at a party held in the House of Commons terrace marque during the run up to the Blair Bush invasion of Iraq in 2003. While chatting with Norwich New Labour MP Ian Gibson, I noticed he was wearing a lapel badge which said : ‘Don’t attack Iraq.’ So I asked him how he could serve under Tony Blair because in my view an attack was imminent. ‘Oh the boy is learning’ he replied in his Victor Meldrew style soft condescending Scottish accent. I met Gibson at another party, two years later in Norwich. He was in the company of upper class actor Tim Bentick. Gibson mocked me, shouting out; ‘He’s here, the last rebel.’ The essence of New Labour, the fake modernisers defies description beyond the words ‘lizard like.’

Robert Cook September 22nd 2019

Why Does the U.S. Support Saudi Arabia, A Country Which Hosts and Finances Islamic Terrorism? On Behalf of Washington? Posted September 22nd 2019

By Washington’s Blog Global Research, November 29, 2017 Washington’s Blog and Global Research 30 August 2014 Region: Middle East & North Africa Theme: Intelligence, Terrorism

First published in August 2014, this essay brings to the forefront Washington’s relentless support for Saudi Arabia, a State sponsor of terror, which has been waging since 2015 a war on the people of Yemen, tantamount to genocide.   

America Has Sold Its Soul for Oil

Why Does the U.S. Support a Country which was FOUNDED With Terrorism

A U.S. congressman for 6 years,  who is now a talking head on MSNBC (Joe Scarborough) says that – even if the Saudi government backed the 9/11 attacks – Saudi oil is too important to do anything about it:
This is not an isolated incident. It is a microcosm of U.S.-Saudi relations.


By way of background, former MI6 agent Alastair Crooke notes that Saudi Arabia was founded with terrorism:

One dominant strand to the Saudi identity pertains directly to Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab (the founder of Wahhabism), and the use to which his radical, exclusionist puritanism was put by Ibn Saud. (The latter was then no more than a minor leader — amongst many — of continually sparring and raiding Bedouin tribes in the baking and desperately poor deserts of the Nejd.)


Abd al-Wahhab demanded conformity — a conformity that was to be demonstrated in physical and tangible ways. He argued that all Muslims must individually pledge their allegiance to a single Muslim leader (a Caliph, if there were one). Those who would not conform to this view should be killed, their wives and daughters violated, and their possessions confiscated, he wrote. The list of apostates meriting death included the Shiite, Sufis and other Muslim denominations, whom Abd al-Wahhab did not consider to be Muslim at all.


Abd al-Wahhab’s advocacy of these ultra radical views inevitably led to his expulsion from his own town — and in 1741, after some wanderings, he found refuge under the protection of Ibn Saud and his tribe. What Ibn Saud perceived in Abd al-Wahhab’s novel teaching was the means to overturn Arab tradition and convention. It was a path to seizing power.

Ibn Saud’s clan, seizing on Abd al-Wahhab’s doctrine, now could do what they always did, which was raiding neighboring villages and robbing them of their possessions. Only now they were doing it not within the ambit of Arab tradition, but rather under the banner of jihad. Ibn Saud and Abd al-Wahhab also reintroduced the idea of martyrdom in the name of jihad, as it granted those martyred immediate entry into paradise.


Their strategy — like that of ISIS today — was to bring the peoples whom they conquered into submission. They aimed to instill fear. In 1801, the Allies attacked the Holy City of Karbala in Iraq. They massacred thousands of Shiites, including women and children. Many Shiite shrines were destroyed, including the shrine of Imam Hussein, the murdered grandson of Prophet Muhammad.

A British official, Lieutenant Francis Warden, observing the situation at the time, wrote: “They pillaged the whole of it [Karbala], and plundered the Tomb of Hussein… slaying in the course of the day, with circumstances of peculiar cruelty, above five thousand of the inhabitants …”

Osman Ibn Bishr Najdi, the historian of the first Saudi state, wrote that Ibn Saud committed a massacre in Karbala in 1801. He proudly documented that massacre saying, “we took Karbala and slaughtered and took its people (as slaves), then praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and we do not apologize for that and say: ‘And to the unbelievers: the same treatment.’”

In 1803, Abdul Aziz then entered the Holy City of Mecca, which surrendered under the impact of terror and panic (the same fate was to befall Medina, too). Abd al-Wahhab’s followers demolished historical monuments and all the tombs and shrines in their midst. By the end, they had destroyed centuries of Islamic architecture near the Grand Mosque.


With the advent of the oil bonanza — as the French scholar, Giles Kepel writes, Saudi goals were to “reach out and spread Wahhabism across the Muslim world … to “Wahhabise” Islam, thereby reducing the “multitude of voices within the religion” to a “single creed” — a movement which would transcend national divisions. Billions of dollars were — and continue to be — invested in this manifestation of soft power.


It was this heady mix of billion dollar soft power projection — and the Saudi willingness to manage Sunni Islam both to further America’s interests, as it concomitantly embedded Wahhabism educationally, socially and culturally throughout the lands of Islam — that brought into being a western policy dependency on Saudi Arabia, a dependency that has endured since Abd-al Aziz’s meeting with Roosevelt on a U.S. warship (returning the president from the Yalta Conference) until today.


The more radical Islamist movements were perceived by Western intelligence services as being more effective in toppling the USSR in Afghanistan — and in combatting out-of-favor Middle Eastern leaders and states.Why should we be surprised then, that from Prince Bandar’s Saudi-Western mandate to manage the insurgency in Syria against President Assad should have emerged a neo-Ikhwan type of violent, fear-inducing vanguard movement: ISIS?

Frontline notes:

Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, founder of “Wahhabism,” an austere form of Islam, arrives in the central Arabian state of Najd in 1744 preaching a return to “pure” Islam. He seeks protection from the local emir, Muhammad ibn Saud, head of the Al Saud tribal family, and they cut a deal. The Al Saud will endorse al-Wahhab’s austere form of Islam and in return, the Al Saud will get political legitimacy and regular tithes from al-Wahhab’s followers. The religious-political alliance that al-Wahhab and Saud forge endures to this day in Saudi Arabia.

By the 19th century, the Al Saud has spread its influence across the Arabian Peninsula, stretching from the Red Sea to the Persian Gulf and including the Two Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina.


By 1945, the U.S. urgently needs oil facilities to help supply forces fighting in the Second World War. Meanwhile, security is at the forefront of King Abd al-Aziz’s concerns. President Franklin Roosevelt invites the king to meet him aboard the U.S.S. Quincy, docked in the Suez Canal. The two leaders cement a secret oil-for-security pact: The king guarantees to give the U.S. secure access to Saudi oil and in exchange the U.S. will provide military assistance and training to Saudi Arabia and build the Dhahran military base.

U.S. presidents have been extremely close to the Saudi monarchs ever since.

The Progressive notes:

The ideology of the Saudi regime is that of ISIS even if the foreign policies differ,” California State University-Stanislaus Professor Asad AbuKhalil tells The Progressive.


Wahhabi Islam [the official ideology of the Saudi monarchy] is fully in sync with ISIS.”

But instead of isolating the Saudi regime from the global mainstream, President Obama paid a visit there earlier this year, meeting with King Abdullah. He reportedly did not discuss the regime’s dubious conduct.

“I can’t think of a more pernicious actor in the region,” British-Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid told me in an interview last year. “The House of Saud has exported this very pernicious form of militant Islam under U.S. watch. Then the United States comes in repeatedly to attack symptoms of this problem without ever addressing the basic issue: Where does it all come from? Who’s at the heart of this thing? It would be like saying that if you have skin rash because of cancer, the best option is to cut off your skin. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Yet, the United States continues with this approach.

Even establishment opinion is recognizing the dimensions of the Saudi problem.

“It can’t be exporting extremism and at the same time ask the United States to protect it,” Retired General (and onetime presidential contender) Wesley Clark recently told CNN.

“Al Qaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram, the Shabab and others are all violent Sunni Salafi groupings,” Ed Husain of the Council on Foreign Relations recently wrote in the New York Times. “For five decades, Saudi Arabia has been the official sponsor of Sunni Salafism [another term for Wahhabism] across the globe.”

Such entities “have been lavishly supported by the Saudi government, which has appointed emissaries to its embassies in Muslim countries who proselytize for Salafism,” he adds.


Then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in a December 2009 leaked diplomatic cable that entities in Saudi Arabia were the “most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”


Yet the United States keeps mum because the Saudi monarchy serves U.S. interests. Due to its pivotal role in OPEC, it makes sure that crude oil prices don’t rise above a certain level. It is a key purchaser of American weapons. It invests in U.S. government bonds. And it has acted in the past as proxy for covert U.S. actions, such as funneling arms and funding to the Nicaraguan contras.


Until Saudi Arabia stops sponsoring the most reactionary brands of Sunni Islam, this U.S. ally will remain responsible for much of the mayhem in the Muslim world.

The Independent headlines “Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country”:

Some time before 9/11, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, once the powerful Saudi ambassador in Washington and head of Saudi intelligence until a few months ago, had a revealing and ominous conversation with the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove. Prince Bandar told him: “The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally ‘God help the Shia’. More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them.”


There is no doubt about the accuracy of the quote by Prince Bandar, secretary-general of the Saudi National Security Council from 2005 and head of General Intelligence between 2012 and 2014, the crucial two years when al-Qa’ida-type jihadis took over the Sunni-armed opposition in Iraq and Syria. Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute last week, Dearlove, who headed MI6 from 1999 to 2004, emphasised the significance of Prince Bandar’s words, saying that they constituted “a chilling comment that I remember very well indeed”.

He does not doubt that substantial and sustained funding from private donors in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to which the authorities may have turned a blind eye, has played a central role in the Isis surge into Sunni areas of Iraq. He said: “Such things simply do not happen spontaneously.” This sounds realistic since the tribal and communal leadership in Sunni majority provinces is much beholden to Saudi and Gulf paymasters, and would be unlikely to cooperate with Isis without their consent.


Unfortunately, Christians in areas captured by Isis are finding this is not true, as their churches are desecrated and they are forced to flee. A difference between al-Qa’ida and Isis is that the latter is much better organised; if it does attack Western targets the results are likely to be devastating.


Dearlove … sees Saudi strategic thinking as being shaped by two deep-seated beliefs or attitudes. First, they are convinced that there “can be no legitimate or admissible challenge to the Islamic purity of their Wahhabi credentials as guardians of Islam’s holiest shrines”. But, perhaps more significantly given the deepening Sunni-Shia confrontation, the Saudi belief that they possess a monopoly of Islamic truth leads them to be “deeply attracted towards any militancy which can effectively challenge Shia-dom”.

Western governments traditionally play down the connection between Saudi Arabia and its Wahhabist faith, on the one hand, and jihadism, whether of the variety espoused by Osama bin Laden and al-Qa’ida or by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s Isis. There is nothing conspiratorial or secret about these links: 15 out of 19 of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, as was Bin Laden and most of the private donors who funded the operation.


But there has always been a second theme to Saudi policy towards al-Qa’ida type jihadis, contradicting Prince Bandar’s approach and seeing jihadis as a mortal threat to the Kingdom. Dearlove illustrates this attitude by relating how, soon after 9/11, he visited the Saudi capital Riyadh with Tony Blair.

He remembers the then head of Saudi General Intelligence “literally shouting at me across his office: ’9/11 is a mere pinprick on the West. In the medium term, it is nothing more than a series of personal tragedies. What these terrorists want is to destroy the House of Saud and remake the Middle East.’” In the event, Saudi Arabia adopted both policies, encouraging the jihadis as a useful tool of Saudi anti-Shia influence abroad but suppressing them at home as a threat to the status quo. It is this dual policy that has fallen apart over the last year.

Saudi sympathy for anti-Shia “militancy” is identified in leaked US official documents. The then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in December 2009 in a cable released by Wikileaks that “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan] and other terrorist groups.”


Saudi Arabia and its allies are in practice playing into the hands of Isis which is swiftly gaining full control of the Sunni opposition in Syria and Iraq.


For all his gargantuan mistakes, Maliki’s failings are not the reason why the Iraqi state is disintegrating. What destabilised Iraq from 2011 on was the revolt of the Sunni in Syria and the takeover of that revolt by jihadis, who were often sponsored by donors in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates. Again and again Iraqi politicians warned that by not seeking to close down the civil war in Syria, Western leaders were making it inevitable that the conflict in Iraq would restart. “I guess they just didn’t believe us and were fixated on getting rid of [President Bashar al-] Assad,” said an Iraqi leader in Baghdad last week.


Saudi Arabia has created a Frankenstein’s monster over which it is rapidly losing control. The same is true of its allies such as Turkey which has been a vital back-base for Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra by keeping the 510-mile-long Turkish-Syrian border open.

As we’ve extensively documented, the Saudis and the U.S. backed the radical “madrassas” in which Islamic radicalism was spread.

Indeed, the U.S. is backing the most radical Muslim terrorists in the world: the Salafis, who are heavily concentrated in Saudi Arabia, while overthrowing the more moderate Arabs.Declassified 9/11 Report Portrays US-Saudis as Partners in Crime The original source of this article is Washington’s Blog and Global Research Copyright © Washington’s Blog, Washington’s Blog and Global Research, 2017

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RAF Seletar – Singapore

The Last Spitfire Operational Sortie

PS888 'The Last' Seletar 1954 (1)


(takes to the skies once more).

By David Taylor

First published in the August 2004 (issue 23) of Searchlight

50 years after the event (April 1st 1954), the 81 Squadron Spitfire that flew the type’s last operational sortie in RAF service from Seletar has taken to the air once again; well, almost! It all began in July 2002 when George Yallop, an ex ARS engine fitter, submitted a photograph of Spitfire PR Mk XIX PS888 to the Daily Mail, for their “Every Picture Tells a Story” feature. The words, The Last!’ were painted on the port side engine cowling, and the text related to how this aircraft had flown the RAF’s last operational sortie of a Spitfire. At the time, I contacted the Mail, sending them a letter for onpass to George, inviting him to join the Association. I never received a reply, but have since learned that George is so into Riley cars he has no time for anything else.

Another person to see that article, aviation photographer and Spitfire historian, Peter Arnold, decided to take things a stage or two further. During a chance meeting with Sqn Ldr Paul Day, at the time CO of the BBMF at Coningsby, he made the suggestion that if, when the six year major service and repaint of their PR Mk XIX PS915 was due, they wished to paint it as The Last!’, he would do the research and prepare the drawings. With the go ahead being given, PS 915 emerged from its winter 2003-04 major inspection, contracted to the Aircraft Restoration Company at Duxford, as PS888, in almost every aspect apart from the registration.

Of course, the story was a lot more complicated than that, for with only monochrome photos available, they needed information from somewhere as to colouring etc. Enter Brian Rose (464), ex ARS aircraft finisher (and friend of George Yallop; which is how I came to know about the Rileys!) – in fact it was Brian who supplied the paint for the lettering. The words were in fact applied about an hour after the aircraft returned from its mission – a photo-recce sortie over a suspected bandit camp in Johore – one George Travis, 81 Sqn member, and ex sign-writer, turning up with a cigarette tin, requesting Brian to fill it with white paint, and to supply a brush. Once duly painted, Sqn Ldr Swaby, the pilot, and 81 Sqn CO, along with the Station CO, Grp Cpt T King, conducted a small ceremony out by the aircraft, and that was it. Well, not quite, as an extract from my book, Seletar- Crowning Glory, explains:

81 Squadron also featured prominently in the news in April 1954, when on the 1st of the month Spitfire PR19, PS888, took off from Seletar to make what was to be the last operational flight of the type with the Royal Air Force. Strange, that, to all but 81 Squadron. Some months earlier they had been piqued to learn that not only had 60 Squadron (Tengah) been credited with flying the last operational sortie, back in 1951, but that Rolls Royce and Vickers Armstrong had actually presented them with silver model Spitfire to commemorate the event!

Sqn Ldr W P Swaby, 81’s Squadron Commander, decided to take the matter up officially, and in a letter to Far East Air Force Headquarters he stated:

It is noted that the flying carried out by the Spitfires of No. 81 Squadron should not have been classified operational with effect from January 1st 1951, and you are therefore requested to transfer the total of 1874.25 hours and 1029 operational sorties flown from that date to the training columns. Alternatively, the squadron will be pleased to accept an 18 inch high silver model of a Spitfire from the Commanding Officer of No. 60 Squadron in commemoration of current operations.

A result of all this was that, on November 21st 1954, Rolls Royce and Vickers Armstrong made amends for someone else’s error by presenting 81 Squadron with their own silver Spitfire. The presentation had been made by no less a personality than Mr Jeffrey Quill, OBE AFC, who, as the former Supermarine Chief Test Pilot, had flown every mark of Spitfire, including the first prototype in 1936.

What I’d be interested in finding out – been chasing after it for some years now, especially for my book on Seletar, but no luck so far – are details of that presentation. We know it was made by Jeffery Quill, we know the date; but how and where? Someone who was on the Sqn at the time must recall some details, but I haven’t yet been able to come up with any answers. I even contacted the Spitfire Association, British Aerospace (no longer any records of Vickers Supermarine), and Alex Henshaw, ex-racer, record breaker (in fact, believe it or not, his London – Capetown record, down the West coast of Africa, set in 1939, still stands!), Spitfire test pilot and good friend of the late Jeffery Quill, all to no avail. Does anyone out there possess any of this information?

Now for a few facts, rumours, was-told-by’s, etc on 81 Sqn’s Spitfires; gleaned from ex Sqn members, so don’t quote me!

At the time the squadron had three Spitfires: PS888, PS890, plus one other, serial unknown.

According to Keith Priest (177), that last Op was actually thought to have been a failure due to camera problems.

One Spitfire remained at Seletar for up to a year (Al Taylor arrived on 81 in April 55 and it was there then), presumably as a Station hack, and Sqn Ldr Swaby’s plaything! Yet, as Bob North (95) recalls it:

Some weeks or months later the three Spits were sold to the Royal Thailand Air Force. A fairly large group of RTAF bods arrived with so much gold braid on their shoulders you wouldn’t believe it. Their instruction in flying the planes seemed to consist mainly of three or four of them at a time leaning over the cockpits and having all the gubbins explained to them. They then took it in turns to fly. They were very brave men but not very good pilots as most of the landings were something to behold – such as dropping down onto the runway from about twenty feet up, and then bouncing up again. I was surprised that any of them were airworthy for the flight to Thailand.

PS890 was presented to the Planes Of Fame Museum, Chino California, in the late 50’s. She eventually flew about two years ago, albeit with contra-rotating props and clipped wings. I did have the pleasure of seeing this plane just a few months before she flew again.

Al Taylor (114), in Queensland, offers the following:

With Tengah-based 60 Sqdn having laid claim to the honour of flying the Spitfire’s last Operational sortie in 1951 (a ground attack mission), working on the assumption that PR flights did not count as ops, but forgetting that they had no target without 81’s PR prowess.

The theory is posed, to end the sour grapes by 60 Sqdn at having had the honour rightfully wrested from their grasp, that the matter should be ended once and for all by an air to ground attack on 60 Sqdn lines. Approval was apparently forthcoming, (Sqn Ldr Swaby, in his quest for justice, again went right to the top – H.Q. F.E.A.F.or maybe even the MOD?) and this raid was given ‘Firedog1 status, with authority to use 200 sheet ‘Aunty Mary’ issue Bog Rolls. Bog Rolls were duly armed to unravel upon release and installed in the Spitfire PR 19 bomb rack flaps and 1/4 flaps selected. It is said that PS 888, still bearing The Last!’ livery, was used for this operation.

The above would indicate that this “Op” took place after April 1954, although Bob North seems to think it was in 52/53, before he joined the Sqn, and certainly before PS888’s mission, therefore well before the livery was applied, so maybe that was a separate issue?

Data held at Hendon on PS888 is as follows:

2/4/45 6 MU (Service delivery)

24/4/45 IPPBenson

17/6/45 542 Squadron

12/10/45 6 MU

13/12/50 Dispatched FEAF via Chivenor

27/12/50 Arrived FEAF

31/1/51 MBFE (Storage) – (MBFE: Maintenance Base, Far East?)

31/1/51 81 Squadron

3/6/53 Flying accident – damage category 3*

Sqn Ldr Swaby

5/6/53 Re-categorised Category A

15/4/54 MBASE(R) PI

Struck Off Charge

3/6/54 Transferred to Thai Air Force.

*Accident card records that at 0950GH Sergeant D G Hood was landing at Seletar after a formation sortie. The aircraft “touched down heavily with side load causing u/c to collapse”.

“Pilot lacks practice on Spitfires – to be restricted to Mosquitos for remainder of tour.”

Taxiing in (George Jarvis with chock )

Photos by Brian Rose

Adding the script-enhanced-1

PS888 Adding the script(Photo Brian Rose)

Sqn Ldr Swaby exits

Taxiing in (George Jarvis with chock )(Photo Brian Rose)

SqnLdr W P Sawby-1

Sqn Ldr Swaby

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